Saturday, January 8, 2011

Angels in Martinsburg

Today is my 64th birthday.

My mother and brother called with their greetings.  Beni Marie got me a box of donuts for breakfast and has already baked the cake.  She has planned a dinner that I like.  What would I do without little Beni???

I love the play Angels in America.  I’ve seen both parts three times, and I love the HBO version with Meryl Streep and Al Pacino.  Tony Kushner’s vision of life and afterlife is so mystical and yet so down–to–earth at the same time.  As often as I’ve seen it, I still don’t know for sure what I think Mr. Kushner is trying to say.  I guess I’m thinking about that play (those two plays) because I’m listening to harp music as I write this.

The characters in Angels are dying or are around people who are dying.  The characters, the living and the dying, are facing truths about themselves with varying success.  It used to seem to me that dying would force people to be honest.  As Mr. Kushner shows us, that isn’t necessarily so.  The Roy Cohn character in the play is a great example of someone who lies to himself to the bitter end.  I don’t want to get to the point of death and still be so totally self–delusional as the Cohn character.  I want to put the white light of Mr. Kushner’s angel on all parts of my life and try to figure things out.  I realize that complete honesty and understanding never will happen, but I want to try.

I’m not thinking about death per se today.  Instead I’m thinking more today about two parts of my life about which I want to be honest and which I want to improve.

First, I’m thinking of Beni and my daughters whom I love and who love me.  I really enjoy them.  I like being with them.  I like hearing about their lives.  I like doing things with them.  As I appreciate their love for me and their presence in my life, I worry, as always, that I haven’t been good enough to them.  I worry that my familiarity with them causes me to neglect showing them the appreciation I have for all that they do for and with me.  I worry that this familiarity also leads me to be less polite to them than I should and could be.  I want them to enjoy me just as I enjoy them.  I’ll try this year to be a better companion, a more appreciative friend and dad, a less withdrawn figure.

The second thing that’s on my mind as I start my 65th year is how I treat myself.  I’m fat.  I stopped exercising two years ago, and I’ve gained about 60 pounds, with no end in sight.  I can feel the ill effects of the weight when I try to do anything at all strenuous.  I know I’m blessed with good genetic material, but good genes need help and I haven’t given them any at all in the past two years.  I wonder if I have some kind of self–destructive process going on.  I know for a fact that I don’t seem to care much about my physical health. . . or my mental/emotional health for that matter.  But the act is parent to the feeling, as I was taught in the seminary.  Maybe my acting to improve my weight, diet, exercise regimen, etc., will lead me to care more for my physical health.

Does all this sound gloomy?  I don’t feel gloomy.  I feel good about today and, in general, about my life.  I look forward to seeing what happens during the 525,600 minutes of my 65th year.

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