Category Archives: Letters

Today I Will Tell You A Secret

Originally written a decade ago for my friend S in honor of her 35th birthday, then repurposed over the years (rather shamelessly) for other special friends on their special bird days. Posting here to put an end to that tradition 🙂

Today I will tell you a secret. 

Today I will tell you a secret. Because you are now old enough to keep it and young enough for it to still matter:

There is a flaw in human measurement of time. 

It happened that someone with a sense of humor and a love for the arbitrary told us a very long time ago to count our circumambulations around the sun. This was nothing more than an inventive and mildly entertaining way to determine how many candles to put on your birthday cake. It is suspected, but hasn’t been conclusively proved, that this same someone was the personage who recommended humanity count sheep jumping over a fence if it couldn’t fall asleep. The point was never the number of sheep. The point was to give one something soft, bleating and cloud-like to think about. Leading one to drift gentle as driftwood into sleep. With the circumambulations the number was always immaterial. The point was to thrill you with the poetry of doing laps around a ball of fire. The point was also the candles – or more precisely — the fact that you blow them out.

They say the Greeks lit candles on cakes to make them shine like the moon. Sometimes they took these cakes over to Artemis’ temple. Imitation has always been the sincerest form of flattery. And I never met a Greek goddess who disapproved of flattery. Some people believed the smoke from the candles wafted one’s wishes clear to heaven. This belief gained popularity over the centuries. Mainly because humanity likes to wish on curious things. Falling stars, eyelashes and birthday candles. The wish-making bit was a clever distraction, but honestly we ought to have picked up on this a little sooner. The anniversarial blowing out of candles on a cake is not a particularly well-disguised metaphor. Light and darkness, life and death, presence and absence. Brief pillars of flickering light. We are here and then we are not. In the interim — let us eat cake (preferably chocolate) together. Let us be surrounded by love. Let us celebrate one another in bare feet. Knowing that nothing stays exactly as it is. Nobody stays exactly who they are. And forever is always and only in this moment.

The ritual of birthdays is peculiar and poignant. 

There is something beautiful about the way a lit candle melts. There is something beautiful about the way a lived life dissolves its own shape. And as for the laps you’ve completed around the fiery center of our solar system — hold that number in the palm of your hand and blow it into the wind like dandelion fluff. For all it means, you might just as well count the number of letters in your name multiply by pi and divide by the square root of summer. Because the truth is no one really knows how long you have been here. Or if you ever really were not.

All I truly know is —

I Am So Glad

You. Are. 


With love,

Pavi (Believer in Bare Feet, Chocolate Cake and Wishing-on-Eyelashes)


When You Wish Upon a Star

Here’s a beautiful new word and its meaning that I stumbled upon today: 

Asterism. 

Apparently any identified pattern or grouping of stars that is not one of the 88 formally designated constellations is an asterism. 

Orion the Hunter? A seven star constellation. The stars glinting in the ruler-straight-line of said hunter’s belt?  A three star asterism. And those three particular stars? They are also known as the Three Sisters. Each with a hauntingly beautiful name– Alnitak, Alnilam and Mintaka. 

I am going to digress a moment here, because en route to learning about asterisms I encountered a website. I feel I must inform you of the existence of Starregistration.net. Where you can purchase for a loved one, wonders like a binary star (ie a combination of two stars,) in a constellation of your choice. According to this reputed website, a constellation is, “a grope of stars that are recognized worldwide by the International Astronomic Union.” As far as collective nouns go — isn’t ‘a grope of stars’ rather extraordinary? There is also a generous educational component to the website. Visitors are informed that nuances are important and:

 “We should differentiate and be careful when we speak about such terms as “Buying a Star,” “Naming a Star,” or even “Owning a Star.” All of these can mean slightly different things. Buying and naming a star is an excellent gift idea. Still, it is helpful for anyone doing this to understand the main concepts in order not to be misled.” 

Is your interest sufficiently whetted? Yes? Then let me also inform you that this illustrious site has a seasonal special going on with 30% OFF EVERYTHING and free shipping to the United States. Do not be misled. Not all binary stars will make it through customs– but one can hope.

With love and a grope of stars,

Pavi