Birthdays are odd events. We take the time to commemorate having reached the same location in Earth’s orbit as when our presence was announced to the world. What’s even more strange, when you think about it, is that we actually AREN’T in the same spot in space because while the planet circles the Sun, the Sun also orbits the galactic center. “We” won’t be in the same space for 230 million years (a “galactic year”). Still, it is one of the ways we have created to mark the passing of time.
I finished my forty-ninth trip around our star today. To be honest, I didn’t think I would last this long. Many of my extended family and friends know at least some of the health issues that are possible in my family, especially the nuclear family I grew up in. I exhibited some of the symptoms of my mom’s illnesses at an early age. Fortunately, the more nasty ones never really arose. Instead, my body chose to be creative and I have something unique for my family that manifested itself when I was thirty-two and for which they know virtually nothing about the causes. It would have killed me then if I had tried to treat it like the flu, which it felt like. And, if it had happened twenty years earlier, it probably would have killed me regardless. It resulted in runaway high blood pressure that is only maintained at safe levels through a battery of drugs, a near-constant state of fatigue (exacerbated by sleep apnea), and some of the treatment prescribed resulted in severe weight gain that the fatigue makes difficult to lessen. Simply put, for much of my life I just figured I would die in my early forties.
But I didn’t (as near as I can tell – you’re not all a figment of my imagination, are you?). Which leads to another purpose birthdays serve: a time of reflection about where we are in life. Some of you know I was in grad school for history when Tommy was born, and when the first “marriage” (and I use that term loosely) ended. I had a choice to make. I shifted over to the MBA program and then transferred to Gonzaga to complete the degree. It was the logical choice at the time, and even with the ups and downs of the past twenty-five years Tommy and I have probably benefited more financially for my doing so.
However, life should not be lived solely for financial gain. When I look at the people who have done so, whether through personal contact or public persona, I see vacuous, empty shells lacking humanity. It is an empty existence with no core, no morality, and offers nothing in the way of contributing to society. I knew this in college as I interacted with my friends who were business majors. They were focused on formulas and processes as much of their potential humanity and capability for critical thought drifted away. I watched them being trained in what to think (corporations don’t like critical, independent thinkers), that the best approach to life should be how to make the most money. Once they entered the workplace, they discovered that it was invariably making money for your company that mattered and MAYBE you would be recognized for your work (the right political connections help) and possibly adequately compensated…as long as that too didn’t cost your company too much.
Still, I became ensnared in a world I had never intended to enter. An escape should have been attempted many years ago when my manager at the time asked me to “dumb down” my email messages, not for his sake (a well-rounded and intelligent GU grad) but for my co-workers and the senior executives who would receive the emails. My escape has proven elusive because of the health issues that require me to maintain a high level of insurance, insurance that would have been denied before 2009 due to pre-existing conditions or been too expensive to afford on my own. So where does that leave me?
I know I have a reputation for posting (re-posting and re-blogging, actually) a lot of the things I see on Twitter and Tumblr. Some of it is funny, some of it is beautiful, and some of it is cerebral..hopefully some of it makes someone think or see a different perspective…it’s always something I find interesting. And, believe it or not, there are a LOT of things I DON’T send. But very little of it has been self-produced content. I am going to work on changing that, for my own growth and benefit (read: sanity) as much as anything else.
It is probably evident that I have a wide range of interests and “causes” I care about. I will try to focus my attention on areas where I can speak with the most authority, where I have had formal training and experience: history, constitutional issues, economics, etc. I will try to be entertaining and informative…I will also likely be controversial and occasionally confrontational, especially viewed from the perspective of people unfamiliar with how classical education (liberal arts, humanities, social sciences) actually train you to think for yourself (as opposed to business curricula teaching you what to think). Feel free to disagree – but be prepared to defend your positions and views with logic and facts. Simply stating my position is “bullshit” or invoking Godwin’s Law immediately means you have lost the argument. I will strive to post thorough notes and links to help in “checking” my work. Intellectual dishonesty and laziness, in myself as much as anyone else, is not acceptable. At the end of any discussion, we might simply agree to disagree, and that is fine. Or you can just realize I’m right.