The Thing

Does anybody remember the movie City Slickers? I was thinking about the scene where Billy Crystal asks his co-worker something like, “Do you ever wake up and think: this is the best I’m ever gonna be, this is the best I’m ever gonna look, this is the best I’m ever gonna feel?”

No? Well here’s an easy one: Can you tell I just had a birthday?

I’m an April Fool’s baby. (And that’s how you have to say it. Not: “My birthday is April 1st” but: “I’m an April Fool’s baby,” because even if I do just calmly and maturely state the date of miraculous entrance unto this party we call life, whoever I’m talking to will inevitably say, “Oooooohhh! And April Fool’s baby!”)

Well let me lay this one on you:

A least one explanation suggests some ancient cultures, including those of the Romans and Hindus, celebrated New Year’s Day on or around April 1st. Then in 1582 the Pope replaced the Julian Calendar with the Gregorian Calendar, which put the celebration of the new year on January 1st.

Allegedly, people either refused to accept the new date, or simply did not learn about it (let’s remember that information did not travel at near the speed it does today) and just kept on observing New Year’s April 1st. So, of course, given that all societies are only made up of kind, generous, upstanding blokes and sheilas (no, I’m not Australian, but I like to think in an accent sometimes – there’s certain flair to it), people started making fun of the Julian Calendarists, sending them on “fool’s errands” or otherwise trying to trick them in some way.

Why did you need that history lesson? Because even the most ridiculous of us (the Fools, if you will) can find at least one cool/unique/different/interesting/intriguing thing about themselves. And more importantly, each of us has something that is terribly important to us. The thing that makes us wake up and breathe every day, the reason we get out of bed and face the day.

And just like Curly said in the aforementioned nineties movie, if you can find that one thing and hold on to it like hell, then all the other noise fades away. You always know what really matters, and by focusing on that one thing you create your own North Star by which to guide your choices, your words, your character.

It’s not as easy as it sounds, finding that thing. Or, rather, it hasn’t been for me. Perhaps you’re one of those people who knows your thing, clearly and with great passion. You’re lucky, my friend, if that is indeed the case. I believe, only through my own observations and suppositions, that the people who don’t have The Thing are those who flounder and flail the most. (Notice I said ‘flail’ not ‘fail’.) Without your North Star you are much more likely to become lost, and the more lost you become the harder it is to find yourself.

Can I claim to know my Thing? Maybe not entirely. Can I say that even when I feel I’ve identified it that I never get lost? Certainly not. But then getting a little – or a lot – lost is all part of the journey to finding your Thing. (Not that thing, you dirty bird. Get your mind out of the gutter and stay with me here.)

My journey still continues, I believe, and it’s gone a bit like this: parents divorce, learning rejection, first true broken (demolished, obliviated, crushed, wrecked, ruined) heart, new friends and finding joy, awkward teenage years, not-so-awkward-and-fairly-mischievous teenage years, teen marriage, paternal estrangement, war, budding relationship and identification of my significant issues, paternal reestablishment, adult marriage, amazing career opportunities, paternal death, introspection, Atheism, blog.

There re you go. Life in 10 seconds or less. And it goes on. The one thing I’ve identified that seems to surface at every turn is what I think is my Thing: Love.

No, not being IN love or finding  love, etc. But love as a compass, love as a North Star, love as The Thing that guides me in word, action, thought, and character. Because while LOVERS may fail you, friends, family, colleagues, PEOPLE may fail you, love never does.

Love as an action (or actions) that you can control, that you can choose, cannot fail. But the trick is you have to choose it – over and over and over- every day, because we are constantly provided with ample ammunition to reject using love as a guide so we can act out on our baser desires. Like revenge, anger, pain, arrogance… Those things often feel good in the moment, but like a night of drinking they leave you with a lingering aftertaste (and some kick in’ breath) shortly after the fun is  over.

So I *think* love is my Thing.

I hope – fervently – that it’s my Thing.

What’s yours?


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