Thursday, February 4, 2010

Celebrating a Birthday

February 2 is Candlemas Day -- more correctly known in Liturgy as the Feast of the Presentation of the Lord. It is also my birthday. Earlier in life, I thought it silly to be coy about one's age. Now, I don't find it very easy to respond when I am asked about my age -- a question I was repeatedly asked on my birthday.

So I would like to find out why this reticence about declaring age -- increasing age, to be more specific. For one thing, society fosters a cult of youth that inches out the aging and the aged. For another, this hesitation about one's age bespeaks of some matter unresolved in me: self-acceptance. And so it is that I am drawn back to a favorite quote from Santayana: "It is better to be enamored by the changing of the seasons than to hopelessly in love with spring." Winter -- in the Philippines, the overcast days and balmy nights of the Christmas season -- has its own allure, and this, I must learn to accept and treasure.

I find myself talking more about memories now and less about plans, which was not so some decades back when I was brimming over with plans. There is that lovely scene in the film which many find corny, but which I honestly liked "An Affair to Remember". When the lady was so captivated by the beauty of the retreat of her beau's grandmother, she exclaimed: "I could stay here forever", to which the wise old woman retorted: "No, you are too young to be here. Go first and make your memories and come back here later in life to savor them." That's a good way of rounding up life: savoring the memories.

Camus, who happens to be one of my favorite authors, had this persistent foreboding about the eventual triumph of death's meaninglessness, but he urged a resolute struggle against it and not to prematurely capitulate: to fight against it, even in the certainty that death will ultimately prevail, that is the height of heroic despair, with stress on the heroic! That's not how I feel though. I believe that a life meaningfull lived cannot be dissipated into meaningless and oblivion in death. Process philosophers deal with this by saying that all of this is prehended by God's consequent nature -- kept my God in a way more perfect that we can keep our memories that many times elude us.

After Mass today, I had this prayer: "Not necessarily a long life, Lord, but a meaningful one!".

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