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I calibrate each year twice, on New Years and on my birthday. Though nobody drops any lighted balls in Time Square in mid-August, my birthday feels the more significant milestone point. New Year seems to be one of those generally agreed upon celebrations, like George Washington’s perennially Monday birthday, which consensus set for the convenience of long weekend Federal employees rather than to denote any real event. I have documentary evidence that I was, indeed, born on the nineteenth of August, on a kitchen table in a country doctor’s house that served as the hospital in a tiny Eastern Oregon town.

Those comprise the facts. The rest of my beginnings might be no more than myth, for every human’s early life comes shrouded in the proud if unreliable testimony of sleep-deprived parents and siblings too young to remember with any clarity. A new child suspends history for a few years. No matter how carefully anyone might try to chronicle the baby steps, most of them will go unobserved by anyone but the child, and he will not yet have become entrained in the curious art of observation, and merely experiences without jotting even a memory for future reference.

I grew into an observer. Though I must have many equally prominent gifts, I focus most attention upon my watchful ones, so I think of myself as a witness. Heaven forbid that I ever find myself called to testify for either the prosecution or the defense, because my witnessing leans toward the impressionistic side of the scale. Justice might decide to prefer blindness over my brand of observation, which seems more meaningful to me, and lacks what some might insist a necessary photographic quality. I see plenty but understand little.

I hold the opinion that each day well represents every experience I might ever encounter, that life tends toward holographic rather than sequential, or perhaps both holographic and sequential. Yes, day follows day with longer-term plot-line apparently emerging, but also day repeats day with no obvious progress at all. Every day begins and ends with sleep. In between sleepings, all the drama of a full and complete life unfolds, albeit subtly; so subtly that even I, a proclaimed witness, catch no more than bare glimpses of the passion play before me.

On those rare occasions when I manage to slow down enough to experience the innate richness, I appreciate the folly of sequential progress. I sense the superficial silliness of time and almost catch the absurdity of that time passing. Life might be out-doing Groundhog Day, not merely replicating each prior day, but iterating on each, displaying the same essential patterns I first experienced before I became a trained observer. I might wisely consider each and every day as if it was Day One; the first day of my life or the last day of my life or, more probably, The Day of my life. My life resonating in yet another perfect representation of life; my life.

The trained observer will ask if this phenomenon scales, and I will doubt that it could. This feels as personal as my birthday, my extremely personal calibration day, hardly fit for public display.

I respect the customs of the world we’ve parsed into existence together, and so mostly keep my transcendent ravings to myself; except on my birthday. On my birthday I wake as if just that minute born, my life force strong and my purpose irrelevant. I might tolerate a small celebration, but from the periphery, please. You party. I’ll observe. No cake, please. Pie if you must. No gifts, either, because I want nothing, need nothing to represent the iteration that identifies itself as me except the experience itself, and the celebration seems more distraction than acknowledgement.

I might even be here today, though I am probably no more certain of my presence than I suspect I was on the first day I recalibrate today to. How could this be the start of another year more than the start of another day, the start of another day more than the start of another hour, the start of another hour more than the start of another minute? I seem to evaporate in calibration.

It would not be unlike me to deny that I’m aging, for I have little evidence of my growing older save for the pesky mirror my father seems to increasingly peer out at me from behind. I doubt that I’m any wiser than when I drew my first breath, probably less wise. I know almost nothing for sure and long ago grew bored with acquiring knowledge after I discovered that I’d never know what knowledge might be, or what might become knowledge. The older I grow the more ignorant I seem to become and the more complacent I feel in my so-called ignorance. I gather impressions without suspecting how I might use them, and I forget more of them than I ever repurpose into understanding. No witness draws conclusions, anyway.

Tonight I will sleep for the 22,646th straight night, if I sleep at all. My considerable experience with even this biological imperative has failed to make me an expert at inducing it. I will probably distract myself until it overtakes me to transport me back to the beginning of Day One again. Tomorrow’s might seem different, and it not being my birthday then, I might neglect to recalibrate to ground. I will most probably enter some routine without noticing it, and replicate some deep patterns representing the very essence of life, my life, as if it was Day One, too, with me experiencing it all for the very first time.

©2014 by David A. Schmaltz - all rights reserved

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