Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Why the 90s are cool

The distance from one base to another in major league baseball, measured in feet:  90.

The time played in soccer, in minutes: 90.

Some of us this week celebrate birthdays measured in years: 90.

When I tell you this, you may ask, what is my angle?  My angle, in degrees: 90.

It is nice to be 90 because at 90 it is nice to be.

You don’t have to be quite 90 to remember the Burma Shave signs along the two-lane highways, spaced one after another with a few jaunty words on each one. If the Creed were on a Burma Shave sign it could look like this:

A speck in the eye
a tear on the speck.
God in the sky,
Satan in heck.
Love in a flicker,
ash in a flash,
Life even quicker,
a hundred-year dash.

What makes a 90th birthday memorable is the number of children (John Wall and his wife Pamela Heyda, Marie Veldman and her husband Mark, David Wall and his wife Toni), grandchildren (Jacob Wall and Dan, Kristen, Michael, Matthew and Katie Veldman) and other kinfolk, along with friends from school days and friends from now and all the friends in between. The mystery is not why writers think anybody wants to read about their birthdays. The mystery is why anybody does read them.

In the 294 days remaining until New Year’s you may want to ponder that question. Maybe a reader is attracted by the fact that my March 12 birthday is shared with W. H. R. Rivers, an English neurologist and psychiatrist, whose birth in 1864 helped establish the use of three initials instead of a first name. On that date in 1947, Mitt Romney was born. Just a year after my birth in Jamestown, N.Y., George Ariyoshi was born, destined to become the third elected governor of Hawaii. There should be lots of coincidences in our horoscopes.

The thing is, as more and more people have drifted away from faith in God, people have drifted away from astrology. The willingness of obstetricians to schedule delivery on particular times and days has diminished some of the astrological mystery, and then there’s NASA.

My first job on a newspaper included getting the syndicated horoscope column properly marked up for a Linotype operator. Would a teenager consider scrambling the astrological predictions, running the Pisces forecasts under the Virgo sign perhaps? Maybe.

But there’s no maybe about the splendor or the suffering of life. For me there is no maybe about the splendor of God as creative mind, or the suffering of God as love, or the presence of God as spirit. And, as soon as yours arrives, a happy birthday to you.

[To be continued March 2025]



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