It is that day again.

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I have my annual birthday today. It hasn’t got a ‘0’ on, but is one of those numbers between 50 and 60 where you slip into another age bracket that those who set surveys get you to tick. Depending on the survey and the bracket, it can make me feel very old.

There was a time when I would work as normal on my birthday, but as I’ve got older, I’ve realised that time is running out; well not running out exactly, but anything that I don’t do now may well not get done done later. Perhaps it is part of loving yourself so you can love others, perhaps it is an indulgence or maybe the two are the same.

The last 3 or 4 years, I have usually gone for a long walk alone in a wild place; the kind of walk where you see few people, you sometimes get lost and you feel the blowing of the wind that sometimes threatens to topple you over.

That is where I will be for most of today-Snowmaggedon permitting. It is a useful reminder that I am very small against the wonder of all that is, that ‘purchased experiences don’t count’ (Douglas Coupland) and heaven for an introvert with extrovert features. Oh; and I may just drink beer this evening as well- it is a birthday after all.

Resurfacing once more on 50 plus 1…

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A couple of years ago I set up a page called ’50 things for 50 years’. It was to be a list of things that I would try and do in the year before I was 50 and in the year after I was 50.

I’m 51 today: the challenge has ended. To be honest, it never really started; I only managed a few items on the list: I changed job/vocation, read a book I really wanted to, acted in a serious play…and that was about it. Something that was not on the original list was having a massive 50th party with a friend where we invited loads of people: that was a really good memory- not because it was ‘just so’ but because we just kept inviting and inviting. If I could do it again, I would invite more; I don’t like walls.

I think it was partly because life became a bit more hectic: there was no space to do a whole list of things. Maybe if/when I reach 60, I will try again; our children will be grown and financial outgoings should have lessened.

But I think the real reason was ‘bucket lists’ became less important; as a John Lennon lyric goes ‘Life is what happens to you while you are busy making other plans’. Those things that happened were lovely, but then again, each day and each moment were potentially also as well.

I think at the end what most of us remember are ‘Normal’ things: family life, friends, holidays etc, but mostly those moments where nothing seemed to happen:

‘and our ordinary afternoons

where nothing is apparent

apart from the sky’s subtle palette

and the sound of

our children’s skins, growing’

(Stewart Henderson ‘Prayer of Aspiration’ (part))

When I composed the list I used a quote from Douglas Coupland’s ‘Generation X’: ‘Purchased experiences don’t count’. They don’t; time passes and life is lived- hopefully well.

And there are always birthdays to mark the passing.

Genesis 12

(Because all Bible characters worse pristine white nighties…)

12 The Lord said to Abram:

Leave your country, your family, and your relatives and go to the land that I will show you. I will bless you and make your descendants into a great nation. You will become famous and be a blessing to others. I will bless anyone who blesses you, but I will put a curse on anyone who puts a curse on you. Everyone on earth will be blessed because of you.

This is one of my favourite Bible passages (although it is not the best translation: ‘famous’ jars a little) I used it when I left the churches I was minister of in North Wales. I used it again when I started in this area back in 2004 and I used it again in one church when I finished in 2015.In the Bible I used until a couple of years ago, the page for Genesis 12 has fallen out; it was so well used.

I could spend ages outlining the passage and what it means (I won’t go into whether it is ‘literally true or not…because that just seems irrelevant) but that doesn’t seem like a good use of time right now.

It always speaks to me and speaks more now as I am on the cusp of 50. Lots of things:

-the future is provisional- much as we would like to ‘fix’ it, we can’t. I am so much more aware of this right now.

-If you have a Faith: it never gives easy answers or something ‘fixed’- ‘Go and I will show you’. The idea that what is around the corner is not known…you find it by stepping out in faith. I used to think that stepping out in faith was heroic: maybe it is. Often now, it feels like blundering, fright, questioning and really not being sure: it is easier to stay in the known warm.

-The stuff about ‘cursing’ would take a great deal of time to go into: I read it that whatever confusion/questions/threat I find myself in- somehow God is there.

-sometimes facebook etc memes about having an adventure are purely self focussed. I like this passage as it talks about blessing others: you trust your God, you step out….and it’s not all about you.

All of this set in a context where the ‘you’ is not meant to be read purely individualistically ( as many Western Christians do)- I need others, I am not an island.

 

49

I will spend most of today being this age, in preparation for another 364 days of doing likewise.

As often happens, life and family and other stuff have meant that the whole day won’t be a ‘me’ day. I’m glad about that: if you had told me 20 years ago that my day would have been interrupted by the activities of my own kids, I would have bitten your arm off. Plus, I may have to tread gingerly: my friends promised me a roistering night out last night with lashings of ginger beer.

49 seems strange- old people are 49 and I don’t feel old (although my hair has grown much greyer since the above photo 2 years ago); yet I became an adult 31 years ago. There are people born after me who have children older than me.

‘Happy Birthday to me’ says my inner narcissist….

50 part 2

(see yesterday’s post)

I thought I could attempt 5 things in that 50 that I really don’t like or have baulked at. I have 3 ideas so far. I am tempted to have a go at the first 2.

Some of you know me and know my likes/dislikes: any other suggestions? I want to do something to appreciate things I normally steer away from and from which I may learn something. That was why I tried to get on ‘The Island’ with Bear Grylls (and nearly made it).

Do something I am uncomfortable with and don’t like:-

(1) Field sports– someone has offered me a go at Beagling. I am a leftie and opposed to stuff like that. Yet I live in a field sports area- how else to understand a whole world that takes place on my doorstep but I have no way into. Don’t judge unless you have first tried it….
(2) Dancing– I don’t. I want to try. I have no rhythm. Whenever I have tried it at AmDrams they have had to turn it into a comedy routine. I only see the word ‘dancing’- I don’t know the categories and types as the activity fills me with horror.
(3) skydive. Actually: throwing yourself into nothingness with hardly any protection and foresight, but with the faith that you will be ok, is like the day job….

50

A few weeks back a friend put something up on Facebook to the effect that they wanted to do the Lyke Wake Walk. I wanted to do it, but I was committed that weekend.

It set me thinking: at the moment I am unusually receptive to random suggestions, more often than not thinking ‘why not?’ Why could’t I do it myself ‘sometime’? Then I thought, if it remains ‘sometime’ it never happens: couldn’t I be like my friend and aim at a date and invite people?

A few more thoughts: but I like people and I don’t like cliques- why not open it wider? Then it occurred to me that I will be 50 in around 18 months: a significant occasion & ‘the new 30’ (yuk...). Why not use that occasion to do 50 things I have always wanted to (but see tomorrow). Some people can do some things, others can do others and I could raise money for something outside of myself.

So I put something on Facebook that I am going to work on some more when I am on holiday. This is the main bit. Read my Facebook profile- go to events and ‘like’ it or join it- there are fuller details there.

I have never attempted anything like this before

 

I am 50 on 28/2/16. That has taken me by suprise and hardly seems possible. I can still remember a Nursery teacher telling me about the break up of The Beatles…

From 1/3/15- 27/2/17 I would like to attempt 50 different things. I am opening this page now, not to remind you to buy me presents (the ones I want are out of anyone’s reach…) but to attempt a possible list. You will see that as well as this, if I do this I am aiming to raise money for charidee.

I have chosen a year before and a year after, as 50 experiences in a whole year is too rich: experiences are better if they are reflected on. Plus, I am not very flexible around weekends.

My criteria are:-

1) Must not be entirely self obsessed: although I will enjoy most of them.
2) Must not depend entirely on oodles of money. Partly as we don’t have it & one of my favourite literary quotes (from Douglas Coupland ‘Generation X’) is ‘Purchased experiences don’t count’
3) Must involve others: ‘No one is an island’- wealth makes us more so- I like people and community.
4) must not involve a tattoo- Victoria has already ‘firmly’ ruled this out. She also muttered darkly about ‘I want at least a nice meal out of this’.

I am doing that as I believe that ‘no one is an island’- we try to be & increasing wealth makes it easier to be- as far as possible I would like to share at least some experiences with anyone willing.

Party

My youngest son has a shared birthday party with a friend this evening. It is a lazer quest party. Part of me detests places like that: loud music, over excited unsupervised kids running around, junk food & part of me just wants to join in.

This is almost the end of an era: the large birthday party involving most of the class (in this case, all of the boys. At 10: most of the boys in the class find the presence of girls to be almost detestable). I am guessing that from next year, the gatherings may be smaller or not at all.

Aside from my grumpy old man nature concerning noise, chaos and over an hour of shrill voices, I am going to miss this time. There is something biblical about all being invited (there are kids that rarely get invited: we have always tried to break this), fun, food and learning to get along. Plus, I used to love it when they were younger and parents hung around: we would get to talk to people we never otherwise saw and enjoyed watching unlikely connections happen.

So: I am thankful for what has been, slightly maudlin at what is going and just a little peeved that the venue’s set numbers have been reached; this means that I cannot run around, full of junk food and shoot people with lazers…

Ben

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Today in our household, the last member reaches double figures. Ben is 10 (and if there is any implied linkage with ‘Ben 10’ there will be trouble from him).

I am not going to say ‘Where has the time gone?’ as it just has. The last 10 years seem more alive and vivid for me than the nearly 38 years before.

When he is not at school- which he seems to regard as an imposition on this day- today will mostly be spent opening presents, going 10 pin bowling, eating at Nando’s and playing on the old PS2 that someone gave him a few weeks ago. That is only because it is not warm enough to play cricket.

We asked him what he wanted for his birthday and after listing physical things, he said ‘Happiness: but you have already given me that.’

5 years old

Five years ago today I started this blog: initially on BlogSpot and now on wordpress.

5 years: if I was a human of that age, I would be barely able to read and write, lacking concentration and unable to mount a logical argument: ’nuff said.

5 years: is an age in blogging terms- all the trendy kids have left blogging for twitter etc (I do that- you can follow me on @revgpp), leaving the blogosphere full of the terminally maladjusted, narcissistic and middle aged: ’nuff said.

I blog for the reason I always did- putting up stuff that I find interesting and that I would otherwise file and forget. Thanks for reading and persuading me that I am not the Jonny no mates of cyberspace.

5 years and my brain hurts a lot….

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They say it’s your birthday.

Rather than a graphic of a cake with candles, I found this:-

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Today I will mostly be walking, going to the cinema, buying guitar strings & visiting an art gallery. I will not be working in any shape or form.

I have attained a decent age; not quite at the level of a Lancashire League cricket crowd applauding, but the club officials would definitely be scrambling for the collecting bowls for the players half century. Given a boundary, I would be there. Actually, an all run 3 would be enough.