On March 24, 2009, I was reading my friend Jason’s blog when I noticed a comment from someone named Billy Coffey. I had seen his blog on Jason’s sidebar before, but never clicked over there. I have enough trouble keeping up the blogs on MY sidebar, let alone everyone else’s. But for whatever reason, I clicked over there. What I found was an incredible, wonderful story about a wise grandmother who taught a very profound truth to her grandson using a fruit salad as an object lesson. Like so many of you reading this, I was completely hooked. To show my appreciation for the writer’s talent, I left the following comment:
“Your grandmother was a very wise woman, indeed.
And you dropped the “f” bomb on her? Jerk!
Just kidding — that was a great post! Glad I found my way over here!”
And that, my friends was the start of a beautiful friendship. I’m still a little overwhelmed that Billy agreed to guest post for me not only once, but every single Monday. Someday soon when he’s a bonafide published author, he probably won’t have time to write for this silly little blog. But knowing him, I’ll have to refuse to post anything from him. Because he would rather wear himself ragged then let down a friend. As impressed as I am with his stories, I’m more impressed with the storyteller. And I’m proud to call him a friend.
Happy Birthday, Billy. May you get everything you wish for this year.
I took my first breath around 5:30 am thirty-seven years ago today.
Birthdays have a meaning that no other day can hold, even Christmas. Because it’s all about you. Sharing is neither required nor expected. It’s the one day when you can get away with most anything.
When you get older, though, birthdays develop a deeper meaning. Or even no meaning at all. I know a lot of people who refuse to celebrate their birthday, as if that is enough to halt the hands of time. I doubt I’ll ever reach that point, though. I don’t mind growing older. Just as long as I grow wiser, too.
If I’ve done my math right (and I never do), I figure I’ve taken approximately 194,471,999 breaths since that first one. That’s a lot of inhale/exhale. A lot of time. Age has never really mattered to me. I’ve known elderly people who were more alive than teens, and teens who were already half dead from the ravages of life. The important thing is that you spend your time wisely, that your heart grows along with your body. We each get the same amount of hours in our day. What separates the blessed from the cursed is what we do with them.
There are certain times of the year that lend themselves to reflection. Christmas has always been one of those times for me, though I’m not sure why. And New Years, of course. But even more so than those is my birthday. July 6 has always been a marker along the way for me, a chance to pull over and take a look not at the road ahead, but behind. If only to see how far you’ve really come.
How far I’ve come down that road isn’t really a matter of distance, of steps. It’s all about what you’ve learned along the way. Which is why every year on this day I’ll walk upstairs to my writing table, pick up a pen and a sheet of paper, and write down what I’ve learned thus far.
It changes, this manifesto of Billy Coffey. It evolves and contracts along with my level of experience in life. Some things I thought were true once turn out not to be true at all, and vice versa. Life is a process, not a set of steps with a definite beginning and end. You don’t often get from point A to point C via point B. Nothing’s that easy. Walking through this world is a little more roundabout than that. Sometimes you can get turned around and lost. And then, hopefully, found again.
I’ve done a lot of inhaling and exhaling over the past twelve months. This was a year of finding. The year I started blogging and easing out of my shell. The year I found myself again. And I pray the next year will bring much more of that.
So here it is, for better or worse, my latest manifesto. What I learned in the last year:
I learned there is a power in words that is overwhelming, one that is able to both lift up and knock down, inspire and doubt. I learned that strangers thousands of miles apart can form bonds of friendship that are both unbreakable and deep.
I learned that the darkness in your life is made bearable by finding the courage to share it with others, and that with much prayer comes much protection.
I learned that my children aren’t here for me to teach them how to live as much as they are here to teach me.
I learned that truth really is stranger than fiction, which is why life is so much worth the living.
I learned that love covers a multitude of sins.
I learned that a penthouse in a big city could never offer the peace of a front porch in a small town.
I learned that lofty dreams and great expectations are best achieved by the hands of God rather than my own.
And finally, I learned that hope is stronger than doubt, faith shines brighter than fear, and that sometimes our hearts must be broken just so they can be made bigger.
What will I learn over the next few months? Who knows. But katdish was kind enough to let me post one of my favorite songs below, and I know this. Regardless, I’m going to enjoy my trip around the sun.