Monday, June 19, 2006


The traditional definition of "family," used by every culture during every age of humanity, includes only the various permutations of father, mother, child, and sibling. Every familial relationship derives from those four categories, whether it be the sibling of the father, or the mother of the mother, or the child of the sibling, or any other combination (I purposely put aside adoptive, same-sex, and in-law relationships, not because they aren't equally valid but because they, too, rely on the same categories, albeit created legally...or not) But aren't we missing another one, the one that links each of us to a unique cohort of people all over the world beyond race, religion, sex or any of the other EEOC categories? I'm talking about the one category that no family can replicate, even twins: our age. Our birthday, even better, our birthsecond frames our existential awareness on a daily basis. We share that with no one, other than the millions of our -- coining a new word here -- "birthers" around the world.

All of my birthers (6/21/51/12:01am) all over the world look at the day after tomorrow as their 55th birthday, the tail end of their sixth decade on the planet. My birthers and I work and play through the day and sleep through the nights. Some will die on the morrow, some have... just died. May you rest in peace...and you, too. Our group continues to shrink as time moves on, through, and over it. My cohort mulches the existential landscape with some wonderful successes, some incandescent failures, and its gravestones and funerary urns. The younger cohorts struggle with adolescence or colic or the charismatic allure of the next Charles Taylor. My father's cohort is loosing its teeth, walking with canes, wincing and reminiscing. Each cohort passes through its own existential filter every second of its life. Some of my birthers get caught up in it and don't make it through to the next moment, others do. What appears immutable is the growing density of that filter as the cohort ages. Eventually it becomes impervious and the last birther in my cohort will the exact same moment as the first death of the newest cohort. That is as certain as the sun rising tomorrow morning. And if it doesn't, even more so.