You Say It’s Your Birthday

“You say it’s your birthday; It’s my birthday too, yeah”

This must be the worst Beatles lyric ever. Well, besides that reference to being “the walrus,” which Paul clearly is not. Because today is my birthday, so chances are it’s not your birthday too, yeah. It’s definitely not Ringo’s birthday (thank you Google for the confirmation). Though if it were, I don’t recommend sending him a birthday card since he recently proclaimed he would no longer be accepting fan mail.

You should know that it’s not just any birthday — it’s my 40th birthday. As the doctor pointed out to my mother the moment I arrived, I was born “On 10/30 at 10:30.” So as of this morning I’ve been on this planet exactly 40 years. The number itself doesn’t bother me so much but I have found myself being fairly self-reflective the last few days. So, if you don’t want to partake in my own reflections on 40, I suggest you go visit another website about now. I promise I won’t be offended.

I’ll start with my favorite poet/philosopher, Jimmy Buffett (besides Jesus, of course). I’m hearing his song “A Pirate Looks at 40” in new ways these days. “The cannons don’t thunder, there’s nothing to plunder; I’m an over 40 victim of fate. Arriving too late; arriving too late.” Great song, though I don’t feel like a victim of fate. Sorry Jimmy. For one thing, I don’t believe in fate. For another thing I don’t feel like a victim. Sure, my recent discovery that my cholesterol’s a bit high annoys me. But that hardly makes me a victim of some fried cheese curd conspiracy (can’t eat those anymore as I once did at the Minnesota State Fair).

“Regrets, I’ve had a few,” sings Frank Sinatra in “My Way” (that’s the third song reference of this post; not sure what that’s about). And that’s probably true. To be human is to have some regrets. But fortunately I find myself looking at 40 with surprisingly few. Sinatra continues: “But then again, too few to mention. I did what I had to do and saw it through without exemption.” I can relate.

So what have I done over the past 40 years? This is part of what I’ve been thinking about. Some you’ll know about, some may surprise you. But here’s what comes to mind in  no particular order:

  • Jumped out of an airplane five times (Army paratrooper training).
  • Fell in the duck pond at the Baltimore Zoo (when I was 7)
  • Met Leonard Bernstein.
  • Attended a World Series game in 1979 (the O’s won the game; lost the series).
  • Married a wonderful woman when I was 26.
  • Drove cross country. By myself. In three days.
  • Pledged a fraternity (Delta Tau Delta).
  • Ordained a priest at 31.
  • Had two amazing children.
  • Wrote a book.
  • Got a dog named Delilah.
  • Watched my father conduct the Chicago Symphony Orchestra.
  • Started a blog.
  • Fired the big gun on an M1 Abrams tank.
  • Ran the Boston Marathon (plus two others).
  • Was mocked by Jon Stewart on the Daily Show.
  • Witnessed my father die at home of cancer at 52.
  • Baptized a lot of babies; married a lot of couples; buried a lot of people.
  • Wrote a hymn.
  • Went to a show at Buddy Guy’s blues club in Chicago.
  • Saw my brother get married to a Swede in Sweden.
  • Captained a lousy high school soccer team.
  • Watched games at Wrigley Field, Fenway Park, Lambeau Field, and the old Tiger Stadium.
  • Lived in Milwaukee, Honolulu, Baltimore, New York, San Antonio, Boston, and Chicago. Worked in the East Bay area of California for a couple of months.
  • Managed a victorious State Senate campaign in Maryland.
  • Worked on several losing campaigns (and some winning ones) along the way.
  • Developed a taste for sushi and black coffee (but not together).
  • Became an uncle, a brother-in-law, and a step brother.
  • Attended the Super Bowl parade for the Baltimore Ravens in 2000.
  • Completed two sprint triathlons (without drowning!)
  • Spent three years at an amazing seminary — Seabury-Western in Chicago.
  • Watched Bryna get confirmed in the Episcopal Church by Bishop Sisk.
  • Only threw up from drinking once in my life.
  • Met Cal Ripken, Jr. and got his autograph.
  • Ate cow’s brain (by mistake).
  • Sang in a boys’ choir for four years in Baltimore (I looked great in a “ruff”).
  • Preached the Word of God on a weekly basis for 8+ years.
  • Saw the Queen Mum at the Tate Gallery in London.
  • Gained a fabulous and endlessly talented step sister in 1995.
  • Quit many instruments growing up including, but not limited to, the violin, the piano, and the French horn.
  • Watched my mother publish “The Desperate Gourmet” in 1989.
  • Saw George Thorogood in concert.
  • Spent last Easter at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine with my family (while on sabbatical).

Well, that’s all I can come up with on short notice. I do have some work to get to on my birthday, after all. But before I sign off, here are a few of the “regrets” — or should I say goals for the next 40 years:

  • Haven’t traveled much beyond North America and Europe — I’d love to get to Israel.
  • I want to play guitar in a blues band. Unfortunately, if I was the guitarist it would be a pretty mediocre band.
  • I have yet to get “discovered.” I’d love to make a cameo in a movie, preferably as a small town vicar.
  • Write a bestseller — for some reason “God’s Shoes” hasn’t shown up on the NYT bestseller list.  Though I check every week.
  • Get to all 50 states before I die. I still haven’t been to Alaska, Montana, South Dakota, Oregon, New Mexico, South Carolina, and Idaho.
  • Run a marathon in every state in which I’ve lived. So far I’ve taken care of Maryland, Illinois, and Massachusetts. Moving to another state anytime soon won’t help my cause.

2 Comments on “You Say It’s Your Birthday”

  1. Fr. Patrick Ward says:

    I don’t see having a great running partner for the last two years or so on your list-What gives???

  2. Father Tim says:

    What, getting into the Acknowledgments section of my book wasn’t recognition enough? Sheesh! Give a priest an inch…


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