Haibun in the Modern English-Language Style by Ray Rasmussen
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Birthday Musings

Sunday, my birthday, arrived, stayed awhile, and passed on through without celebration or special attention. Well ... okay ... a few cards and emails arrived.

Birthdays can't be helped. People bring them to you whether or not you bring them to yourself. They're like the baby you find on your doorstep ... "What do I do with it? Gad! It has dirty diapers."

Strange in this older man's body to feel boyish. I wouldn't want to be a boy again for all the reasons you know. Fortunately, this body still works pretty well. But who is that stranger in the mirror!

First autumn morning:
the mirror I stare into
shows my father's face
Murakami, Kijo (1865-1938)

In one email message, a high school friend asked: "Where did it go?" I had always heard that time would accelerate, but I didn't know it would be like this … a roller coaster ride .. the coaster taking forever to go up, up, up, to get to the top, then teetering for an eternity, then a mad plunge for the bottom—taking you with it, adrenalin surging, screaming, and ... it's all over in a matter of seconds.

The mad plunge to the bottom is reinforced by the passing seasons. Walking on Whitemud Creek with my black and white border collie, I realized that only moments ago it was springtime [the time when the great horned owls hoot for their mates] but now the leaves had turned and the owl was gone.

now golden the trees
where just yesterday
I heard the owl's mating call

Observing notices about deaths brings on the feeling of plunging down, down, down – it’s not about them, it’s about me - it's another kind of birthday notice. I almost always look for the age. How old was Ken Kesey? George Harrison? They seemed so important at the time as their coaster cars were chugging slowly up the incline! Yet, there they are at the bottom amongst the rubble.

The winds that blow –
ask them, which leaf on the tree
will be next to go.
Kyoshi Takahama

Perhaps it's valuable to focus in this way occasionally. Perhaps not. As I said, it can't be helped ... people and events bring birthdays to you whether or not you bring them to your self.

So much for the melancholy of birthdays, aging, dying, death ... I prefer dwelling in other places, with other matters.

haiku published in World Haiku Review, 2003