A “Symphony of Your Life” blog with Mark Hardcastle
Captain’s Log: May 18, 2020, my birthday. My airplanes are grounded. No flights, no passengers for 13 days. My last two flights were ferry flights to park airplanes and take them out of service. We’re in the Covid19 crisis of 2020. And today is gonna be a great day!
Good morning! It’s my birthday, and today I am 8 years old! Do you have any idea how much freedom there is in being 8 years old? I am still too young to understand that anything is impossible!
“How can this be,” you ask? “You look far older than 8 years old,” you say? Yes, my body carries the years of a biological birth more than 60 years ago. But 8 years ago today I was given the great gift of a new birthday. You may know the story…
I was over in Moab, UT with a bunch of friends who go there every year to ride mountain bikes. Mid-ride on the first morning there I crashed on the Porcupine Rim trail at 20 mph. I came to with a paralyzed arm and a neck broken in 5 places. One doesn’t come closer to “lights out” than that and live to tell the story.
Amazingly, miraculously, and thanks to some incredible work by the Grand County paramedics and the neurosurgery team at St. Mary’s hospital in Grand Junction, I did live, and my recovery was as good as anyone could have hoped. And here I am, these years later, typing away, greeting you on my new birthday!
Oh, right. That. @Fernanda Nieto, My dear friend and colleague from her days with the Colorado Children’s Chorale, is from Argentina. When she heard about my accident and subsequent recovery, she told me of a beautiful custom from her South American culture. Seems as though in Argentina, when someone has a close scrape with, well, you know, one gets a new birthday. What a lovely custom! And since she told me that, May 18th has been the day I celebrate.
A new birthday! With 6 decades of experience on this body! What does that mean?
Maybe my biggest ambition since that watershed event has been to see and treat every single day as a gift. Fact is, just a tiny difference in my experience on the trail those years ago, and I would not be experiencing any of these days. Hmmm… So this morning, for instance, I was up early in the Willow Creek open space taking in the fragrance of clean air in late springtime, enjoying the remarkably insistent cackling of innumerable species of birds as the sky brightened ever-so-gradually. Engaging the senses in this body that might not have been available to me under other circumstances.
It’s true I haven’t always been successful at treating this second chance as the gift it is. I have made concessions to life, and to the energy of those on my path with me that have sometimes altered my view in a given moment. But that doesn’t change the ambition. It’s ever-present, and I’m always correcting back to the course that ambition prescribes for me.
What else does that span of experience mean to this young life?
A corollary to the first meaning is that I have made peace with death. Did you just say “ouch?” Sorry, get over it. None of us are getting out of this alive. Mortality is coming for us all. So what’s the big deal?
If we spend all our energy avoiding our inevitable end, we waste the time we have here. It’s only by recognizing and indeed embracing that reality that we are free to live fully. So. Let’s engage in life to the greatest extent possible while we’re here. Experience as much as that glorious body of yours, that is yours to use for a season, can show you. Do life!
A corollary to that, then, is to do life intentionally – not by accident. Sit with that possibility for a moment, and decide what experiences you’d like to enjoy. Then figure out how to bring those experiences into reality. Then work the plan.
And here, perhaps, is the most powerful lesson of all: stay in the process! Stay in the process until you have what you desire within your grasp, or life shows you the shift away from what you only thought you wanted and toward something even better. We can never have success at anything we attempt if we stop moving toward it before it is ours.
Today I celebrate my 8th birthday! Thank you in advance for celebrating it with me! Oh – about that 108th birthday Facebook thing. Facebook doesn’t allow 8-year-olds to have their own pages. So I just added a few years for the sake of practicality.
Now here’s my birthday ask, the present you might give me, if you will. Do something bold today. Something you’re a little afraid of. Enjoy your gift of incarnation! And let me know either in the comments or by PM what you chose to do. And know that I am grateful for this day. And for my friendship with you.
It’s my birthday! And it’s gonna be a great day!
Thanks for reading!