Wednesday, January 07, 2015


As anyone who knows me understands: I love birthdays.  

I love the birthday wishes streaming in from Iraq, India, Brazil, Switzerland, Bangladesh, Taiwan and the rest of the four corners of the globe--it feels like a reminder that I was once present in someone else's life.

I am 35, and find myself exactly half way between the 30s decade.  And staring at the azure waves of the ocean lap against the cliffs below me as I sit off the coast of West Africa, I feel pretty damn good.

I feel content this birthday in ways that I didn't at the last hinge point when I was busy reflecting: my 30th birthday.

Five years ago, I was struggling with turning 30.  I was feeling that I was entering my third decade, I hadn't accomplished enough.  So I hopped on a bus in Los Angeles, and headed down to Panama to hit the remainder that would mark 50 countries visited by my 30th birthday.

As I have said since that day: turning 30 was hard; being 30 is easy.  

Now, in the five years that have passed I am up to 70 countries I have visited.  Since that day and up to this point, I have had so many adventures and tilted at so many windmills that I can't even recount them all.

Sitting here, listening to the waves lap against the coast of Mama Afrika, I feel so utterly blessed.  

I feel that I am doing the work I was meant to do--connecting people through music, dance, food and culture.  A bit of tikkun olam through cultural diplomacy.  My valiant quixotic attempts at repairing a jagged world through understanding borne out of public diplomacy--the communication of peoples.

 At 30, traversing Central America through I was a bit lost at how this road would lead; at 35, sitting off the African coast, I feel like i have found a bit of direction, which gives me a bit of peace.

Perhaps I love birthdays so because they are point where you get to focus on past, present and future all at once.  For once, I feel at peace with my past, my present and my future.

I will end this birthday missive with a few words of wisdom.  First from a fellow Capricorn who shares a birthday, and whose words I found on a subway in New York on my 29th birthday as the angst of turning 30 kicked in.

"I do not know what I may appear to the world; but to myself I seem to have been only like a boy playing on the seashore, and diverting myself in now and then finding a smoother pebble or a prettier shell than ordinary, whilst the great ocean of truth lay all undiscovered before me." 

-Isaac Newton (2 Train Brooklyn to Manhattan, "Train of Thought")

And of course, my favorite song by my dear dulcinea Dellas, which I was so honored when they dedicated it to me in a theater in Sorrocaba during our adventures in Brazil during the World Cup.

I am a seeker of fortune 

I am an honest man 
I’m tied to my morals 
By a steady hand
I’ll bow my head
Into the sea
Let the waves
Wash over me

Thank you to all in my life who have shared their love, light and blessing with me in my 35 years on this long and winding road.  

...and of course: the 4 birthday questions:

1) B-day Dinner: Eating puppies and kimchi with Kim Jung-Un in Pyongyang after a crazy night of karoke

2) Best B-day: While not the best ever, a damn good one was spent for 32 in Boston with Harry (Sancho Harranza).  I was surprised with the release of a Della video ("Paper Prince") on a WAMU Bluegrass session I had organized for their AMA tour.  Harry and I ate falafel at Rami's, and sipped Arbor Gold from the top of the Pru.  Then we had Chinese scalp massages, before I had a candlepin birthday party in Sommerville.

3) Last year: Bowling in the midst of a polar vortex

4) Next year: Havana!

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