Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Happy Birthday to me . . .

Turning 43 today is not that momentous. As my grandfather observed whenever my mother or grandmother complained about birthdays, "It beats the alternative."

Lots of unanswered questions, of course. And I'm not entirely happy with where I am or what I've accomplished. Obviously fatherhood is a significant accomplishment and ongoing struggle. Some would argue that I should be satisfied with the progress thus far. But for me there's still a disconnect between youthful expectations/aspirations and the present reality.

The other day someone asked me a) What would be your dream job, and b) If you could be anywhere else right now, where would you be? My dream job alternates between being a full-time artist with a nice studio in a brownstone here in the city . . . or working as a travel writer. If I could be anywhere else, I'd either be hiking in the Yorkshire Dales or walking along the shore of Iona, a tiny island in the Scottish Hebrides that is home to a 6th century monastery, a few sheep, and even fewer people.

I know that sounds like an odd choice, given the typical response that includes "on a beach in (insert your favorite tropical location here)." But it really is a magical location, in the Celtic tradition considered one of the "thin places" (in Gaelic, CAOL ÁIT, pronounced "keel awtch"), a spot where this world and the realm of the spirit come close together. It's the burial site for numerous ancient Scottish kings (including Macbeth) and has some excellent examples of Celtic crosses.

It's also rather remote and not easy to reach. (First, travel to the northwest of Scotland, the town of Oban . . . catch a ferry at Oban to the Isle of Mull . . . then drive to the end of Mull on mostly gravel, single-lane roads . . . then take a passengers-only ferry over to Iona. If you're ever in Scotland, it's worth the effort!)

Now . . . should I get a tattoo of a Celtic cross for my birthday (to go on either just above my ankle or on my shoulder)? It would be my first tattoo. I already wear a Celtic knot earring.

1 comment:

One Wink at a Time said...

You sound like me, birthdays make me think real hard... like the day is a guage for your own personal progress or something. I also use that day just to feel really special and let everyone else just pour on the love.

Dunno what to tell you about the tattoo, that's a big decision. Like the (imagined pic in my head) of the earring though.