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The master and her birthday

I am a parent, futurist, and technologist. My career has spanned the birth of personal computers to the rise of cloud computing.

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Each year the students would ask on what day were you born?

Every year on the day that was her birthday, the master would go for a walk. She would rise early in the morning, long before anyone else was up. She would quietly make her way out of the school, then into the village by herself. It was not that she was asocial. She spent all day every day teaching students. But part of her path was to be alone on her birthday. The other thing about the matter was that she never told anyone the day of her birthday.


Every year the students would ask, and every year the master would say yes, I was born. The students would reply, on what day were you born? The master would answer the day I appeared. The day I first breathed the air of this planet. The students would press, sometimes cajole, some groups would even beg, but they could never get the day the master was born out of her.


I was born like you; she would reply as they asked the question in many different ways. It was a good lesson for taught the students to find many ways to ask the same question. The question was a repeat. She would give a new answer.


Each answer given was unique because it had never been heard before. It answered the question without answering the question. The master would always end the questions the same way. She would say: "It does not matter when you were born. It does not matter the day that you arrived. It does not matter if you share that day with everyone or no one. The only thing that matters is what you do each year after your day of birth and before your next day of birth. That is all that matters. Not the day but what you do."


Her birthday was not the only day the master left early to walk alone. In the early morning, before the world stirred, the master found peace. It was a time to reflect. It was a time to prepare mentally for what was to be that day.


Some students would ask, why master, do you go off alone in the morning? The master would smile, and the master would say I find myself in the quiet of the morning. That is all that was said, no matter how many ways students ask the question. Or how many different students asked the question, it was always the same answer.

It is not the day you were born but what you do with the year between that matters.

But on the day that was her birthday, something was always different for her. It was as if that day, the world was born again new. The master would walk out of the school grounds and out of the village's cobbled streets, and then stopping; she would look back. On the day that was the day she joined this planet, that was the day she looked backward.


Perhaps, had a student risen early and followed her, she might not look back on that day. But no student ever followed, and so on that day she arrived, she turned back and looked. She told herself that the world and time were a circle. It begins and ends in the same place. And so she would turn back to see the year that was. Remember, she thought to contemplate what once was.


This year, no different from any other the master turned back and contemplated the year as she reached the edge of the village. She contemplated the questions, and the students and she contemplated the passage of time. The time she thought steals from you. Time takes over and over. Each year time is taking just a little bit more. But time also gives. Time is the great equalizer. For mighty kings fall in time. But time also gives smiles. Time also gives memories. And time gives hope. The master would think about the year that had been. Always begin the day after her last birthday and always ending on this the day of her birth. A year-long journey compressed. The master would smile and slowly continue her walk the year noted the year stored the year now the past.


It was the only moment she allowed herself to review what had been. To review her year, she lived the highs and the lows, happy and the sad. It was, as she often called this time to herself, her time of reflection. Her rule was simple, no matter what, you only review the year between the birthdays. When done, she would turn and resume her walk as she did every day.


The students would ask, every year, on what day were you born? Every year the master would answer on the day I opened my eyes for the first time. And then write a smile at the student's knowing more questions would come but knowing no answers would follow the questions. "It does not matter when you were born. It does not matter the day that you arrived. It does not matter if you share that day with everyone or no one. The only thing that matters is what you do each year after your day of birth and before your next day of birth. That is all that matters. Not the day but what you do."

© 2021 DocAndersen

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