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Masonic News & Views - Happy Birfday!
January 20, 2014
Greetings Brother,

I trust you are well.

It's been a trying day here at the CowChows. I'm currently curled up in my recliner, under a blanket, with a heating pad on my belly. It's not that I'm all that cold. It just seems...proper. You see, I'll be turning 55 in a few days.

My day didn't start out like this, retreating to comfort and warmth in a dark corner of the house. I was doing pretty good this morning. I was in a contemplative mood, taking stock and measure of my time thus far. I was weighing my accomplishments and wondering what I might yet accomplish in the years to come. I was considering the trade-offs in life and comparing the things I've gained to those I've lost. This afternoon as the sun peeked out and warmed the day I decided to step out for a little wandering and pondering therapy, and to make a list of those things I've gained and lost in my 55 years.

After wandering enough I settled myself on a driftwood bench on the front deck of the house to continue pondering and begin my list.

Things I've gained in 55 years:

  • I believe I've gained a measure of wisdom, although, by any measurable measure that measure would surely be immeasurably small.
  • I’ve gained a respect for my own abilities but an acceptance that there's always room for improvement.
  • I’ve learned a hangover is never justified.
  • I’ve learned to trust my instincts but remain open to the possibility of being wrong.
  • I’ve learned no one is infallible.
  • Forgiveness is a choice.
  • I’ve learned an appreciation of the efforts and struggles of others.
  • I’ve learned never to judge without all the facts.
  • And, I’ve learned you can never truly have all the facts.

Things I've lost in 55 years:

  • My butt.
  • The ability to see my feet unaided by a mirror or something to lean on.
  • The ability to scratch wherever it itches.
  • The ability to "dance all night, dance a little longer."

As I sat pondering what else to add to my list I heard a soft scuffling sound from the other side of the fence not far away. I looked up and saw a small head with straight dark hair, bright young eyes, and a smudge of dark across one flushed cheek poke up above the fence. "Hello," I said, "Who are you?"

"It's me, Focus!" he said smiling.

"Ah, I'm sorry Focus. I've only ever seen your eye and your mouth through the knothole in the fence, but now that I see them together I can see that it is you. Is it okay for you to talk to me now? Am I not still a stranger?"

"Yah, it's okay," he said nodding cheerfully. "My dad says you're probly an okay guy, and if you're some kind of perverd he knows where to find you. What's a perverd?"

"Well, I think that's an excellent question...for your dad. What are you up to today?"

"Hmmm, nothin. Just playin'," he said with a shrug. "What're you doin'?"

"Well," I said holding up the notebook, "my birthday is coming up and I'm making a list of the things I've learned and lost in my life."

He considered this for a moment and then asked, "How many things have you lost?"

I glanced down at my list and said, "So far I have four things."

He piped up excitedly and said, "Maybe I could help you find them."

"Well, that's awfully nice of you Focus but these aren't the kinds of things you can find. They're kind of like your baby teeth. Once they're gone they don't generally come back."

"Oh," he said, his little head seeming to deflate with his excitement. Then he perked up again and said, "I have a loose tooth now. Wanna see it?" and he opened his mouth as wide as it could go.

"Why, I'd be honored Focus," I said, and I was.

Afterwards, he studied me for a long moment and then asked, "So, how old are you gonna be on your birfday?"

I stepped back from the fence and said, "Focus, I will be fifty-five years of age."

His eyes seemed to grow to the size of saucers in his little face. His mouth dropped open and he simply stared for several long seconds. He closed his mouth and swallowed and his cherub-like lips silently mouthed the words, "fifty-five."

"Really?" he whispered.

"Yep, really," I told him.

"Wow, that's like, really, really, old," he said with an emphatic nod on each of the last three words.

"Well, it's not that old," I protested.

"Yunh hunh," he declared, "that's like five hundred in metric years!"

I started to argue the point further but suddenly he said, "I gotta go tell my brother Spencer. I'll be back, ‘kay."

I watched him jump down from whatever he'd climbed up on to see over the fence, and run pell-mell down the hill toward home. I imagined him dragging his brother Spencer up the hill to show him the living dinosaur next door, and suddenly I felt every bit my metric age. And, that's how I came to be in my recliner, under a blanket, with a heating pad, on a beautiful sunny Sunday afternoon.

Fraternally yours,

Tim Couch

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