I just flew out west – snuck through between snow storms – to celebrate a dear person’s one-year anniversary of a sober life.  Nothing could be more worthy of celebration – a full run of seasons without recourse to the easy way of (not) handling what needs to be handled, and yet no occasion could be more indicative of the hollowness of anniversaries: it can also be seen as just another day in the steady march of handling life’s challenges one day at a time.

The African explorer Stanley was attacked by a lion, who sunk his claws into Stanley’s shoulder and his teeth into Stanley’s neck.  A desperate and lucky shot killed the lion and saved Stanley (who interestingly lived to tell of his feling of narcotic lethargy and detachment during the experience of being killed to be eaten – the protective endorphins of the prey animal).  Every year, he later reported, on the anniversary of the attack, his scars would inflame and the pains of the attack return ot haunt him.  This is a testament to the power of the mind, the power of trauma, and, I suppose, to the power of anniversaries.
Myself, I am not an anniversary person.  I don’t remember my own birthday, don’t expect anyone else too either.  I struggle to remember anyone else’s.  My best friend of 30 years, for whom birthdays are very important, feels slighted every time I forget, which I do unless I write it down ahead of time and remember to look where I noted it.  I would prefer to call, write, or gift someone when I think of it, rather than on a particular day on the inaccurate and astronomically unreal Gregorian calendar, but life being as busy as it is, I am probably guilty of doing that less than once a year, which would be the purpose, I guess, for anyone other than an astrologer to assign someone a particular day.

That’s actually an easier way for me to remember – that friend is a Taurus-Gemini cusp, my other best friend is an Aries, my longtime sailing partner is a triple Sag – my wife I have no problem remembering – she’s a Leo.  If I kept up with it all, I would need a list, and I would be writing cards every morning, and I would be a better person for it, I suppose.

There’s no reality in anniversaries – it’s all human markings of time.  The earth has moved on, time has moved on – it’s only us who see the years moving in circles, rather than spirals.

Please don’t expect me to remember your birthday, but I do remember you outside of any time marker in the things that call you up – I see a book you liked, a friend we share, I’m in a town where we met.  These remembrances seem more real to me; anniversaries seem arbitraray and contrived.

That said, congratulations, dear person, on making it through a year without relapsing into the easy way.


One Response to “Anniversaire”

  1. julianaotter Says:

    “it’s only us who see the years moving in circles, rather than spirals.” indeed.

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