The Devil, Jesus and Johnny Cash: My 39th Birthday

My 39th birthday will be official in about 50 minutes. Getting older is not an ideal situation for me, as I am feeling increasingly like time is running out for the millions of projects I have in my mind. I want to read all of the great books, I want to learn so much more, and I want to photograph as much of the world as I could possibly hope to. While the 39th birthday is not the 40th, there is a clear half-empty assertion being made by the universe this time around.

What did I decide to do in the 24 hours leading up to this auspicious day? Fortunately, I was gifted with an opportunity to enjoy a series of images from the medieval era that I had studied in university, but had never seen in anything but terrible reproductions: The Tres Riches Heures of Jean Duc du Berry. A series of rare miniatures that represent both the calendar year and stories from The Bible, these images are some of the most glorious combinations of golds, blues, aquamarines and iconography. Strangely, I found an abandoned facsimile edition in our library’s back room that I was generously allowed to borrow for a week or two. I view it as an opportunity to experience one of those rare pleasures that one comes upon when it matters the most.

Tonight, I spent a few hours learning and recording Johnny Cash’s “God’s Gonna Cut You Down”.  Again, it just seemed like a brilliant segue from the religious prints to another interest and into the blog. I do love music, but it is so hard to find the time to do anything more than listen to it. My evenings this week were spent watching Wagner’s opera, Die Walkure, on the Met Player before I cancelled the subscription, and I was given a wonderful recording of Lucinda Williams’ Honey Bee on vinyl by my brother. It has been a week of culture, myth and contemplation about where I fit into such a universe. Maybe the question I have been asking is: what can I accomplish before God cuts me down?

 

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