Monday, July 6, 2009

Happy Birthday Billy Coffey!

On March 24, 2009, I was reading my friend Jason's blog when I noticed a comment from someone named Billy Coffey. I had seen his blog on Jason's sidebar before, but never clicked over there. I have enough trouble keeping up the blogs on MY sidebar, let alone everyone else's. But for whatever reason, I clicked over there. What I found was an incredible, wonderful story about a wise grandmother who taught a very profound truth to her grandson using a fruit salad as an object lesson. Like so many of you reading this, I was completely hooked. To show my appreciation for the writer's talent, I left the following comment:

"Your grandmother was a very wise woman, indeed.
And you dropped the "f" bomb on her? Jerk!
Just kidding -- that was a great post! Glad I found my way over here!"

And that, my friends was the start of a beautiful friendship. I'm still a little overwhelmed that Billy agreed to guest post for me not only once, but every single Monday. Someday soon when he's a bonafide published author, he probably won't have time to write for this silly little blog. But knowing him, I'll have to refuse to post anything from him. Because he would rather wear himself ragged then let down a friend. As impressed as I am with his stories, I'm more impressed with the storyteller. And I'm proud to call him a friend.

Happy Birthday, Billy. May you get everything you wish for this year.

Breathing in, breathing out, and moving on

I took my first breath around 5:30 am thirty-seven years ago today.

Birthdays have a meaning that no other day can hold, even Christmas. Because it’s all about you. Sharing is neither required nor expected. It’s the one day when you can get away with most anything.

When you get older, though, birthdays develop a deeper meaning. Or even no meaning at all. I know a lot of people who refuse to celebrate their birthday, as if that is enough to halt the hands of time. I doubt I’ll ever reach that point, though. I don’t mind growing older. Just as long as I grow wiser, too.

If I’ve done my math right (and I never do), I figure I’ve taken approximately 194,471,999 breaths since that first one. That’s a lot of inhale/exhale. A lot of time. Age has never really mattered to me. I’ve known elderly people who were more alive than teens, and teens who were already half dead from the ravages of life. The important thing is that you spend your time wisely, that your heart grows along with your body. We each get the same amount of hours in our day. What separates the blessed from the cursed is what we do with them.

There are certain times of the year that lend themselves to reflection. Christmas has always been one of those times for me, though I’m not sure why. And New Years, of course. But even more so than those is my birthday. July 6 has always been a marker along the way for me, a chance to pull over and take a look not at the road ahead, but behind. If only to see how far you’ve really come.

How far I’ve come down that road isn’t really a matter of distance, of steps. It’s all about what you’ve learned along the way. Which is why every year on this day I’ll walk upstairs to my writing table, pick up a pen and a sheet of paper, and write down what I’ve learned thus far.

It changes, this manifesto of Billy Coffey. It evolves and contracts along with my level of experience in life. Some things I thought were true once turn out not to be true at all, and vice versa. Life is a process, not a set of steps with a definite beginning and end. You don’t often get from point A to point C via point B. Nothing’s that easy. Walking through this world is a little more roundabout than that. Sometimes you can get turned around and lost. And then, hopefully, found again.

I’ve done a lot of inhaling and exhaling over the past twelve months. This was a year of finding. The year I started blogging and easing out of my shell. The year I found myself again. And I pray the next year will bring much more of that.

So here it is, for better or worse, my latest manifesto. What I learned in the last year:

I learned there is a power in words that is overwhelming, one that is able to both lift up and knock down, inspire and doubt. I learned that strangers thousands of miles apart can form bonds of friendship that are both unbreakable and deep.

I learned that the darkness in your life is made bearable by finding the courage to share it with others, and that with much prayer comes much protection.

I learned that my children aren’t here for me to teach them how to live as much as they are here to teach me.

I learned that truth really is stranger than fiction, which is why life is so much worth the living.

I learned that love covers a multitude of sins.

I learned that a penthouse in a big city could never offer the peace of a front porch in a small town.

I learned that lofty dreams and great expectations are best achieved by the hands of God rather than my own.

And finally, I learned that hope is stronger than doubt, faith shines brighter than fear, and that sometimes our hearts must be broken just so they can be made bigger.

What will I learn over the next few months? Who knows. But katdish was kind enough to let me post one of my favorite songs below, and I know this. Regardless, I’m going to enjoy my trip around the sun.


Wendy said...

Happy Birthday, Billy!

Joanne Sher said...

What wonderful, powerful truths for all of us, Billy. Thank you for sharing them, and enjoy your day - and your trip around the sun.

Nick the Geek said...

I don't mind growing older just as long as it means getting presents.

Actually not true. I really don't mind growing older but I can never think of what I want for my b-day much to the annoyance of everyone.

Anyways, Happy birthday.

Annie K said...

I'm glad Katdish started leaving her annoying comments on your blog because that's how this crazy group of bloggers were introduced to Billy Coffey. Actually, Katdish just told us all to go over and read your blog. Why we all do what she says, I'll never know, but she has a way of finding the awesome bloggers.

Happy birthday Billy. I hope it's a great one and that this year is bigger and better than you could ever imagine!

~*Michelle*~ said...

Wishing you a happy birthday here too!

This is my favorite, btw:

"I learned that a penthouse in a big city could never offer the peace of a front porch in a small town."

That needs to be on the jacket of your book.

sherri said...

Happy Birthday Billy! You've crammed alot into those 37 years! You're a much older soul- and I mean that in a good a wise old soul taking up residence in a younger man's body.

Enjoy your day and the next exciting trip around the sun.

Helen said...

Awesome list, Billy.

Shark Bait said...

Hoo Ha Ha Birthday old man!

Beth said...

Happy Birthday to you,
Happy Birthday to you,
Happy Birthday dear Billyyyyyyyyy,
Happy Birthday to you!

And many moooooooooore...

Thanks for making your way to my humble blog now and then when I actually post something!

Karin said...

Great list Billy! Love the idea of a guest blogger1 God bless!

jasonS said...

Love the post as always! Happy birthday- may it be another blessed year for you and your family.

The Homefront said...

I learned that a penthouse in a big city could never offer the peace of a front porch in a small town.

So true, so true.

Thanks for bringing us along this trip around the sun with you, Billy.

lynnrush said...

Happy Birthday, Billy. I think you just inspired me to take inventory on my birthdays in the future as well. What a great practice.

I love this one: "I learned that love covers a multitude of sins."

Amen, brother. I'm so thankful for that in my life as well.

Happy Birthday, my friend!

Jeanne Damoff said...

Happy Birthday, Billy! (That makes the third cyber-place I've written those words today.) I love the lessons you've learned this year and believe you will find them to be the sort that remain true always.

No doubt I am among many who are thankful you're blogging, easing out of your shell, and finding yourself. Today may be your birthday, but we are the ones who've received the best gift.

I'm glad to have recently "met" you, too, Katdish. You are so much fun! :)

Steph @Red Clay Diaries said...

Happy Birthday Billy!

From one redneck to another...

When you shoot off your shotgun tonight in celebration, make sure not to aim straight up.

You're welcome.

As many have already said, I'm glad I found your writing. (i.e. obeyed the will of Katdish to get to your blog)

I hope to be able to read some even more wonderful stuff for your manifesto of Billy Coffey NEXT year!

Stacey said...

Happy Birthday, Billy! Love your list, but this one is my favorite: "I learned that the darkness in your life is made bearable by finding the courage to share it with others..."
I've learned that this year too.

Hope you enjoy YOUR day!

Sockrma18 said...

"Breathe in, Breathe out and Move on"....

Those were the first words that Mr. Coffey "spoke" to my heart in a response to an email I sent him regarding a blog post last year. They sucked me in to be a life long fan from that moment on. He is and always will be what I like to call "IT" and that's just that. :0)

With God directing your words, Billy, you have reached many thousands of readers and by just that alone given so much glory to God.

Your talent is immeasurable, your heart too big for your chest. May this birthday be the best yet and may you have many, many more years to show God's endearing love within you.


Tina Dee Books said...

Happy birthday, my friend! I pray the day is nothing less than wonderful and that you're savoring every moment with people you love and who love you!

We do love you, Billy. Thanks for the gift--we always consider your writing a gift from God to us!

Birthday blessings!

Billy Coffey said...

Thanks for all the warm wishes, folks. And keep 'em coming. Katdish thinks my head's not nearly swollen enough yet.

lahlah said...

Happy Birthday! Hope it's the best one ever, and the best blessed year ahead for you!!

Crown of Beauty said...

Another wonderful post from Billy that just leaves me sitting here, wanting to go back and read it several more times, and let every word of what he has learned the past twelve months sink into my spirit.

Thank you Billy for having a birthday.

And thank you "katdish" for sharing your Monday blog space with a man like Billy.

Peter P said...

If I could be any one person in the entire history of the world, it wouldn't be you, Billy.

But you'd come a close second, or third, or maybe fourth of fifth... whatever, you'd be way up there in the top 10,000.

Happy birthday Billy!

Julie said...

Happy Birthday, Billy.... The angels rejoiced the day you were born!

I've been blessed to find your blog.

Candace Jean July 16 said...

Wow, this makes that "It's not the years in your life but the life in your years" quote look pretty pathetic. I've loved your wisdom and writing. Don't ever stop.

I still can't believe Katdish left that comment on your blog on the first visit. She usually contains herself until the 3rd date.

Lauryn Abbott said...

I love what you learned, Billy, thanks for sharing these great lessons with us! Happy Birthday, friend!

Beth E. said...

July definitely birthed some great people:
My dad - July 5
Billy Coffey - July 6
My mother - July 7
My sister - July 20

You're in with a great group, Billy!

Thanks for sharing your heart with us. You are wise beyond your years. Wishing you the best in the years to come...


Arlene said...

Happy Birthday Billy Coffey. You are so loved by so many in twitter. May you continue to prosper and your blessings increase. Health and peace always! @arlenesg

Lianne said...

Happy birthday, Billy Coffey. I think we all are a little better off just by knowing you. I hope you had a great day!