This happened just a few clock rotations ago, on February 19th, a birthday of many candles. Always before, almost always, I had taken this day of days off and pondered through past year and coming year and what was and could and should be.
This practice became less and less the last half-decade, as I descended into the fog of a loved-one’s sickness and death and the hot-kiln of consternation about next steps.
Eventually, I fought through the fog, found and married a unique and fun woman, and stooped down and built up a new dream from the cast off sticks of the old dream, with Jo Anne adding her zest, her tigress music and her boundless encouragement.
Nonetheless, even with the superhero theme bedecking my work-office door, this 2015 birthday, after a long day of teaching and wrestling with questions of knowledge gained, used and misused, found me not in a place of deep serenity and beauty, but seated in front of a faintly glowing computer screen, in my office at the University, concocting a worksheet for students to deepen their knowledge of Williamson’s Transaction Cost Economics theory (i.e., how the just-right, or just-wrong, transaction [agreement] can gain you or lose you your shirt!).
I was deep into the evening. Cold Arctic air seeping into our Central Missouri campus like an ice age of swamp gas. Snug in my scholar’s cocoon. The phone rang. Gary my friend had greetings and questions for me.
“Hey, Lorin, Happy Birthday— how is your birthday? I assume you are out to dinner somewhere with your lovely wife, celebrating your special day. . . What, you are in your office working on worksheets for your students!!??
HEY, LORIN, THAT’S NOT EVEN A NEAR MISS!!
You need to drop that stuff and get out and celebrate, man!”
When I am lucky, I have a friend who helps me see the other, funner side of life, like ripe fruit over my head. Counter to my frequent fixation on the dirt-encrusted bread crumbs at my feet.
I dropped my pen and made a phone call—“Hey, Jo Anne, how would you like to take me out to dinner for my birthday?”
We dressed up for the cold and went out for a hot dog (me) and a veggie burger (she). A very fancy Chicago-style hot dog. And deep fried dill pickles on the side. Then we watched an episode of the first season of LOST.
Look! Reach up. RIPE FRUIT.