Thursday, August 6, 2009


Nobody puts Leo in a corner.
--Dirty Dancing, the director's cut

Okay, so instead of posting another angst-ridden existential crisis piece about why I'm here and what it all means, I thought I'd post something simple on gratitude. Because it's my birthday, damn it, and I'm grateful for these 33 years.

The circumstances we're born into are uncontrollable and set our fates to a large degree. This is both unjust and true. I'm on the lucky side of that coin toss. This says nothing about me as a person. If I had been born in another place, to different parents, or without the love and support of family and friends, my life would be less than it is today.

Or if I had been born in a different time.

So to further this little exercise in gratitude, here's how Time Travel Me would have celebrated my birthday all those years ago:

Me born 1,033 years ago: Dead. I died 1032 years ago from a terrible plague that wiped out half my village. Crap. On the plus side, life would have been miserable, anyway.

Me born 533 years ago: Dead, also. I died 515 years ago, in childbirth.

Me born 133 years ago: I’m alive (woo-hoo!). On the downside, I didn’t finish a high school education, much less college, and toil all day in the house (if you know me, I’m not one for toiling, in general). And since there is no birth control, I’m on my seventh kid. Only one has died, so I count my blessings. I’ve never written a thing. There are some joys, of course, but I find my greatest solace in church. Because there’s got to be something better than this, right?

I spend this birthday taking care of the six kids, and feigning a headache with my husband at night, so that there won't be a seventh.

Me born 64 years ago, in Hiroshima: Very, very unlucky. And on a side note, I've always felt slightly disturbed about my birth day for this reason.

Me born 33 years ago in beautiful Burbank, California: Thank you, thank you, thank you. I'm going to eat some delicious Mexican food and, with my kids and family, enjoy my mom's birthday cake later on. Because my mom still bakes me birthday cakes.

I've probably mentioned this somewhere before, but I've always been intrigued by Nietzche's idea of eternal recurrence. Basically, it's the notion that you'd be willing to live your life, with all its pain and sorrows, over and over again in exactly the same manner. No, not just willing. You'd embrace it!

What, if some day or night a demon were to steal after you into your loneliest loneliness and say to you: 'This life as you now live it and have lived it, you will have to live once more and innumerable times more' ... Would you not throw yourself down and gnash your teeth and curse the demon who spoke thus? Or have you once experienced a tremendous moment when you would have answered him: 'You are a god and never have I heard anything more divine.'

--Friedrich Nietzche, The Gay Science

I feel like embracing that kind of divinity today. And all of you, too.


Aine said...

Happy Birthday!!

What a clever post! I LOL'd at the "Me born 1,033 years ago: Dead." :D

As for living my life again and again, I'd be okay with that on one condition (are we allowed a condition?) I wouldn't want to be aware of having lived it before, nor what was coming in each moment. I can handle the pain that has been in my life, but I wouldn't want to know what's coming while powerless to change things.

Best wishes for the next 33!

David Cranmer said...

Happy B-day! I wish I could drop back six years but what the heck I'm enjoying 39--sort of.

Karen said...

Happy, Happiest Birthday, Sarah!

I love your time travels! I've often thought how fortunate I was to have been born when and where (and to whom) I was. No, not all easy, but good.

Would I do it again? In a heartbeat! Just give me the chance!

I hope your day was perfect and that you have many, many happy returns!

Anonymous said...

Warmest wishes for your 33rd birthday! (Bring on those 3's!!) And so fitting that you celebrate with such an insightful and far-reaching post.

(But for me, that demon is a demon. Anybody got any silver bullets? Does that even work on demons??) ;)

Charles Gramlich said...

Happy birthday. Intersting thoughts on that.

Stephen Parrish said...

Me born 133 years ago . . . I’ve never written a thing.

You might not have known how to read, either.

Happy birthday, Sarah!

Aniket said...

Dayum. I wished you on an older post. But once again, wishing you a very happy birthday.

I am so on Jason's side with this one though. I am gonna curse that daemon to death if he ever speaks those words to me. To gao through all those history and chemistry lectures again. No way.

Margaret said...

A very Happy Birthday Sarah!!

You're one lucky person to have lived the life you've lived up to now.

I, too, count myself very lucky and would be quite happy to live my life over and over again.

Have a great birthday....I'm sure your mom's cake is delicious. :D

the walking man said...

Hope it was the best one yet Kiddo but not as good as next years. May that be your repeating life. Happy post birthday day.

Jennifer said...

Sarah, I don't think I've ever read a more creative and lovely birthday post. (I think my own was a rant against Bill O'Reilly!) ) Bu this is, to me, very you--creative and lovely.

And I had to laugh at the feigning headache so there wouldn't be a seventh baby thing. :)

I wish you joy and happiness this year, this auspicious year in which we will all be standing in line to purchase "Plum Blossoms in Paris." :)

Sarah Hina said...

Thank you, everybody, for the wonderful birthday wishes! It was a fun day, and the cake was delicious.

Aine, I completely agree. And I happen to know that condition is written into the contract. ;)

David, 39 seems like a good one to me. It's great to see you drop in from your travels. :)

Karen, you and me both! :) I'd take that leap. And yes, I think we're all pretty fortunate in this crowd. I am very grateful to know you, for one.

Jason, sometimes demons are angels in disguise. :P (but we might need that silver bullet for the creature from your last vignette! ;))

Charles, thank you for that.

Stephen, a very good point. I shudder to think.

It's so good to see you drop in here. :)

Aniket, you made me laugh!! And yet there is a kernel of truth there. Organic chem, in particular.

(Stephen might disagree. I seem to remember a post about a chem lab and some chemistry...)

Margaret, it was orange chiffon this year! :) And yes, we're all lucky to be here, and I'm so very lucky to know all of you.

Mark, that is beautiful.

You know, I actually thought of this post from something you said in a comment awhile back. About how different Melanie's (my character's in "Supply and Demand") life and expectations would have been if she had been born 80 years ago. It struck a chord with me, and I thank you for it.

Jennifer, Bill O'Reilly deserves those rants!! :D

Thank you so much. I do think it will be a good year, if my luck continues to hold.

And just to let you know, I'm still very happy to see some magenta in my comments section. :)

Rick said...

Happy Birthday, Sarah. You have a wonderful blog, and I frankly find your comments on other's blog to be so well thought out and meaningful that I just had to stop by.

Hoodie said...

Happy Belated Birthday, my dear.

I am with you on the willing to live this life over. Or with Nietzche.

I'm a true believer that whatever challenges we face, no matter how tragic, they are uniquely ours and if we were given the opportunity to trade trials with someone else we'd almost always stick with what we've got.

Call it God, the universe, whatever you like, I think we are given the circumstances that stretch and shape us best.

(Please be sure to go back to my blog and check the comment section. You have been a saving grace.)

joaquin carvel said...

happy bithday! and thank you for the sprint through time - that was a blast!

Sarah Hina said...

Rick, your comment made me very happy. :) Like I said on your blog, I often feel the same about you. Thanks so much for stopping by to brighten my day.

Hoodie, I love what you said here. :) The past is always prologue, and we are all, no matter how broken or happy, writing our own lives. Fate might give us the horse to ride, but we can own those reins.

(And thank you again for the comments on your blog. They made me teary, too.)

Sarah Hina said...

Joaquin, glad to have you along for the ride! And thank you for the birthday wishes. :)

Linda S. Socha said...

Hope the Birthday Celebrations have been all the small pleasures you could image and the larger ones you mayh have dreamed of.

I love this post...the approach and the devine gratitude. Thanks for sharing it

lena said...

happy birthday, Sarah!!
that is such a great post to mark one's own birthday.
May all your dreams come true and may you give us pleasure in reading more and more of your beautiful writing :)

K.Lawson Gilbert said...

How fun! Those historical snippets were interesting - loved your take. Happy 33rd Birthday and many happy returns of the day, dear Sarah. Hope all your wishes come true this year.

I would gladly live my life over - even with its trials and tribulations. All those divine parts would be wonderful to re-live.

Sarah Hina said...

Linda, thank you for stopping by to offer those very warm words. It was a wonderful day.

Lena, that was very sweet of you to say! :) It is truly a pleasure to share my writing with you, and so many other talented and empathetic souls.

K, so good to see you again, my friend!! :) And yes, I had very little extra to wish for this year.

I'm glad you're with me on embracing that eternal return. Those trials and tribulations make us who we are today.

Chris Eldin said...

Sorry I'm late in wishing you a happy birthday!!
What a beautiful, beautiful post! Yes, so much of who we are is determined by when and where we were born. I love how you took us back in time to the other possibilities...

Sounds like you had a lovely time with your family!!

Sarah Hina said...

Chris, thank you!! I'm glad you enjoyed my time travels. :)

And yes, it really was a perfect day.