NOT A PRIME NUMBER . . .
Today marks the beginning of my birthday weekend. On Sunday I turn 63 which, let's be honest, is not a noteworthy birthday. It's an "eh" or "whatever" birthday. Just look at the number "63". So BOR-ING. What could possibly be significant about turning 63? Among a few other things (and I mean a few) Wikipedia reveals that 63 in Mathematics is:
- a number of the form 2n − 1 (with n = 6), but it is not a Mersenne prime since n is not prime and 63 is certainly not prime either.
- palindromic and a repdigit in bases 2 (1111112), 4 (3334), 8 (778), 20 (3320) and 62 (1162).
In Astronomy, 63 is:
- Messier object M63, a magnitude 8.5 galaxy in the constellation Canes Venatici, also known as the Sunflower Galaxy.
- The Saros number of the solar eclipse series which began on -879 April 20 and ended on 401 May. The duration of Saros series 63 was 1280.1 years, and it contained 72 solar eclipses.
In other fields, 63 is:
- The code for international direct dial calls to the Philippines.
- The number of chromosomes found in the offspring of a donkey and a horse.
See what I mean? Boring as hell.
HOWEVER, WHAT ABOUT THIS IN-YOUR-FACE POINT? . . .
. . . at some point, death becomes a normal part of life -- a faint dirge in the background that gradually gets louder. What is that point? . . .
With some heroic assumptions, we can come up with an age when death starts to be in-your-face. We will merge all sexual and racial categories into a single composite American. We will assume that there are 100 people your age who are close enough to be invited to your funeral. Your funeral chapel won't fit 100 people? No problem. On average, half of them will be dead . . . And why 100? Because it's easy, and also because it's two-thirds of "Dunbar's number," of 150, which is supposedly the most relationships that any one set of human neurons can handle. We're crudely assuming that two-thirds of those are about your age.
Anyway, the answer is age 63. If a hundred Americans start the voyage of life together, on average one of them will have died by the time the group turns 16. At 40, their lives are half over: Further life expectancy at age 40 is 39.9. And at age 63, the group starts losing an average of one person every year. Then it accelerates. By age 75, sixty-seven of the original one hundred are left. By age 100, three remain.
Uh-oh. Turning 63 appears to be momentous, if not alarmingly portentous. My contact list contains 572 cards. The infamous -- and highly coveted -- holiday card list contains 136 cards. I looked through that list yesterday morning and I couldn't bear the thought of deleting ANY of them. But the cards are stacked against that, aren't that? I'm at that point in my life when, as Kinsley writes, death will be in my face, even more than it has. Many beloveds have been diagnosed with cancer, or immune system (fuck the leprechaun [inside joke]) neuromuscular, heart and mental health diseases. I will have to let go of even more of my beloveds.
SO, MOVING FORWARD . . .
Pictured immediately above is the Twirler Kinetic Garden Stake that my beloved sister, Dawna Joy, sent to me for my 63rd birthday. (As most of you know, I typically don't open birthday cards or packages until my actual birthday, but my sister was so excited!)
I don't think I've ever shared how much I love the wind. I love walking in it. I love listening to it. I don't know why. Dawna Joy, a shaman, believes that I love the wind -- or the wind loves me -- because it is a power that is capable of communicating larger-than-life-language. "You must finish your memoir!" she concludes.
She is right.
. . . the wind has its reasons. We just don't notice as we go about our lives. But then, at some point, we are made to notice. The wind envelopes you with a certain purpose in mind, and it rocks you. The wind knows everything that's inside you. And not just the wind. Everything, including a stone. They all know us very well. From top to bottom. It only occurs at certain times. And all we can do is go with those things. As we take them in, we survive, and deepen.
" . . . at some point, we are made to notice."
I'm at that that point; that "death-in-your-face" age of 63. The wind is at my back with a certain purpose in mind. It's rocking me, from top to bottom.
I need to go with it. Finish the memoir. Take it in. Survive, and deepen.
Much gratitude and love to all.
SORRY, I JUST COULDN'T RESIST THIS ONE . . .