55 ALIVE!

Today is my birthday, and I’ve hit the speed limit–55! I was 22 when, according to Wikipedia, the National Maximum Speed Law was enacted in 1974. This entry says it was in response to the gas crisis, which I remember fondly. Isn’t it odd how it was about saving gas, not lives (which was its greatest legacy?) And isn’t it funny how the crisis then “disappeared” for 30 years?

The title? If you’re my age, you remember this slogan from those days–“55 Alive!” Which is also a good slogan for this year, come to think of it.

I digress. I just wanted to add that I’m glad there are no speed limits in how we live our lives. And that sometimes, the legacy we create is not the one we intended.

Today I’m pointing to an old essay I now refer to every birthday, the one I wrote on September 11, 2001. It’s as poignant and meaningful to me as it was that day. It’s become my “secondary artist statement.”

As for the sympathetic murmurings I get that this happened on my birthday, I just want to say that:

1) Everytime something bad happens in the world, it happens on someone’s birthday.

2) Having a birthday to be sad about is better than having no birthday at all.

3) And not even I have an ego so huge, I think 9/11 is all about my birthday. (Although, I hasten to point out, it is entirely human to think so. We are the center of our own universe…)

So here is my essay. It’s a little stilted, as I reread it after all these years. But it’s exactly what happened to me that day, it’s exactly how it happened, and I still believe it.

Enjoy the day!

An Ancient Story for Modern Times

P.S. Even spookier, I see today, is the reference to global warming. The latest article I’ve read says we will probably lose polar bears, and soon. For some reason, this saddens me almost as much as everything else going on.

I cannot imagine a world without polar bears.