Birthdays are usually days where I insist on indulging myself to the fullest, to the point of making myself very unhappy. Case in point: my 21st birthday, where, extrapolating from my love of coffee, I declared that I would drink as much coffee as possible (based on theorem more=better) resulting in an irritable, cranky, wired mess. Today life seems to be indulging me however, and I am content to let it. For example, this morning at 9 the TV provided me with not just "any" episode of Charmed, but the very first episode, so that I could see exactly how the three witch sisters first came to be aware of their awesome powers, and I could wonder how the show ever survived its pilot. A highlight: when Piper's boyfriend, "Jeremy," turns out to be a horrible, murderous demon--much as I was on my 21st birthday after three thermoses (thermi?) of Kenya AA.
Then, I received a delightful email from my friend regarding a lonely, speechless, piano player found wandering a windswept road on the Isle of Sheppey. Though the article is meant to be somewhat touching and melancholy, I laughed and laughed. The "windswept road" is my favorite touch; the article author is given over to literary pretensions, to be sure, a la Thomas Hardy, perhaps, of The Mayor of Casterbridge? Are we sure these are not the shenanigans (the brilliant maneuvers) of some out-of-control publicist? Perhaps this "mystery piano player" will soon be touring the world, appearing in Carnegie Hall to sold-out crowds, etc. Please be assured, this is not me! I have never been to the Isle of Sheppey.
Finally, though, on my "indulgent" birthday, I had to make a choice, between a carton of butter cookies and some delightful leftover chocolate sauce (Belgian chocolate with cream):
or oatmeal with honey, strawberries, and banana:
Basically, a choice between virtue and vice. I am happy to tell you I chose virtue. But what does the Bible (or any other religious document, for that matter) have to say about choosing virtue in order to feel less bad about subsequent vice? For indeed I chose oatmeal as a sort of counter to expected and likely overindulgence in food and drink with friends this evening, in the Village. It would seem just to be a roundabout way of choosing vice, of ameliorating vice. I turned not to the Bible, but to the Tao Te Ching, trans. by Stephen Mitchell:
Stop thinking, and end your problems.
What difference between yes and no?
Must you value what others value,
avoid what others avoid?
Hmmm, not too helpful. Seems to free me to do just about anything! How about:
Free from desire, you realize the mystery.
Caught in desire, you see only the oatmeal and/or chocolate sauce.
(I have slightly edited this translation for current circumstances.) This is better; perhaps I should not get caught up in desire for either oatmeal OR chocolate sauce, or margaritas, or that delightful dish I can't wait to have this evening with the stuffed poblano peppers with the pomegranate seeds. Oops. Turning back to timeless wisdom:
... the Master
acts without doing anything
and teaches without saying anything.
Things arise and she lets them come,
as for example pilots of Charmed,
and emails about piano players,
When her work is done, she forgets it.
That is why it lasts forever.
Actually I REALLY LOVE those last two lines, the business about forgetting! They gave me another delicious birthday pleasure, which was a connection to another quote I love, which is my true birthday blog indulgence, just for me... some more Roland Barthes:
"Yet reading does not consist in stopping the chain of systems, in establishing a truth, a legality of the text ... it consists in coupling these systems, not according to their finite quantity, but according to their plurality (which is a being, not a discounting): I pass, I intersect, I articulate, I release, I do not count. Forgetting meanings is not a matter for excuses, an unfortunate defect in performance; it is an affirmative value, a way of asserting the irresponsibility of the text, the pluralism of systems: it is precisely because I forget that I read." --S/Z
And I will now (finally) take the advice of the Tao:
Express yourself completely,
then keep quiet.