Last Friday – my 63rd birthday – I re-posted (with some minor edits) the short essay I wrote on the occasion of my 62nd birthday. It was about turning 62 – the age at which my brother had died in 2011 – and the quest to outlive him numerically by turning 63.
That post ends with:
There is much more to that challenge than simply lasting the year.
I’ve got some living to do.
Seeing that line again for the first time in a year caught me up short. It made me wonder: Had I lived up to my own challenge over the past 12 months?
Or had I just gone on with my desultory day to day existence, squeezing nothing more out of my continued presence here on earth than the consumption of natural resources and the production of bodily wastes?
And then I remembered this photo:
That’s me, seated on a bench before the south elevation of Melrose Abbey in the borders region of Scotland.
For so many reasons, that photo answers the question.
I may not have lived entirely up to whatever potential I have had languishing here for the past several years (like, since Book Two went off the rails), but I think I can say that I certainly made some effort, and have some results to show for it.
I mean, I’m pretty pleased with the whole “Portals of Stone” collection that came out of that trip to England and Scotland last spring. I had my first “art show” this fall, and now the whole collection is hanging in an actual art gallery in East Nashville. And I got a check in the mail for one of the pieces last week. Eat your heart out, Van Gogh…
Probably more important than any of that is just the fact that I made the effort. That I saw an opportunity and I grabbed it, and the result was as satisfying and meaningful a two-weeks as I can recall in my life.
I still can’t quite put my finger on what draws me to these medieval ruins, although I can say that the unexpected result – the Portals of Stone – that came out of that trip is maybe the most creative expression I’ve had since… well, maybe since I finished/published Book One – and that’s going back to 2002. Certainly the most creative visual expression in like… ever. I mean, hey, I was 62 years old and for the first time in my life I came up with something that somebody else – actually a couple of somebody elses who have authority in such things – considered “art.”
So, yeah. That happened.
And now the same gauntlet is thrown for Year 64.
Cue the Beatles: