Monday, June 11, 2012

Birthday Greetings Backatchya

Birthday Greetings Backatchya
By Tom Wachunas

    Imagine my unsurprise at finding a considerably large batch of Facebook birthday messages parading through my email over the last few days. If it’s not already apparent to those of you reading this, I rarely engage Facebook but for occasional responses to event invitations or a very few personal comments. I’ve often been tempted to post a scathing critique of Facebook in general, full of heady remarks about its ludicrous, trivial, insulting, needlessly cluttered, silly, dumb, junky-looking, time-wasting, ridiculous, infuriating… Yikes, I digress.

    Seriously, to those of you who noticed and took the time to send me a greeting, may God bless you all. I mean it. And please don’t take it personally that I didn’t use Facebook to let you know my appreciation. ARTWACH (and good old- fashioned email) is as close to “social media” as I’ll ever fully utilize. I LIKE it that way.

     So speaking of birthdays, this one’s found me to be in a particularly introverted mood (no surprise there), as well as in career inventory-taking mode. Hey, it’s my birthday and I’ll cry if I want to. Or laugh or complain or share or…praise. As in praise God I’m still here, able and willing to share with you His  gifts to me.

    The bad news is that this is my I’m 61st birthday and I’m just a bit dismayed at how blindingly fast the years march on. Didn’t I just have one of these a few weeks ago in 2011? The good news is that, as some of you readers may appreciate, 61 is the new 59.

    As far as career inventory goes, I’ve been reflecting on what’s transpired between the time I decided to resettle here in early 1992 (after living 14 years in New York City), and this very morning of June 11, 2012. Twenty years. What a long, strange trip it’s been, said the grateful living.

     More precisely, I’ve been remembering the exact moment when I decided to actually live here in Canton. The decision made its entrance on to the debris-strewn stage of my life (a tragicomedy, to be sure) quietly, poised for what promised to be a soliloquy of indefinite length. It was the morning after a March, 1992 ice storm, as I was looking through the picture window of the living room in my oldest brother’s North Canton home. I had been living there since the holidays, struggling all the while with the idea of returning to live in New York (somehow forgetting that I fled there jobless, in debt, divorced, homeless, drunk). The window framed a pristine vision of Ohio winter, with simple ranch style houses nestled on gently sloping lawns covered in a thin veil of snow. The bare trees were perfectly encased in dripped ice, as if each branch wore a sleeve of glass. I walked outside to breathe in the crisp, bracing air. A group of scrawny sparrows, protecting some morsel of food on the ground, chirped madly at a crow the size of a cat. Sparrows and crow circled each other, wary, menacing. As the wind picked up, I was gripped by a sound that overpowered everything including the birds’ battle for survival (which the sparrows won). It was the drone of the wind rushing through the ice-laden branches, causing a cacophony of clicking noises as the branches flapped together. A gathering of witnesses, as it were, hands etched into the soft gray sky. It sounded like…yes, that was it: applause. Adieu New York. Greetings Canton. The show goes on.

    And on. While it’s true that a few of the awful demons that had plagued me in New York pursued me here (like so many menacing crows), it is only the grace of God that has made me victorious over them. The Facebook birthday greetings remind me that I am deeply humbled and grateful to have been born again in every sense of the word, ever blessed to continue savoring and serving this community of artful colleagues and remarkably creative friends.

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