Facebook is good about reminding me of my fiends birthdays. Some days there are five or more birthdays on the same day and I look at the group and wonder if they have any things in common. I'm not a believer in horoscopes or astrology but somehow I have this feeling that people on the same day should have some things in common. What is the overlapping part of these birthday Venn diagrams?
Today, I also saw three birthdays of famous folks.
What do these people have in common?
It’s the birthday of poet Pablo Neruda who was born in Parral, Chile in 1904. In 1923, when he was 19, he sold all his possessions in order to publish his first book, Crepusculario (Twilight). Because his father didn’t approve of his writing poetry, he published it under the pen name Pablo Neruda.
His book Veinte poemas de amor y una canción desesperada, known in English as Twenty Love Poems and a Song of Despair, is probably his most popular.
It’s also the birthday of American author, poet, philosopher, abolitionist, tax resister, and transcendentalist Henry David Thoreau. Born in Concord, Massachusetts in 1817, he graduated from Harvard and then worked in his father’s pencil factory.
He also taught, resigned because he didn’t want to administer corporal punishment, and opened a school with his brother, John. John caught tetanus after cutting himself shaving and died in Thoreau’s arms and it deeply affected Henry.
A life change occurred when he went to work for Ralph Waldo Emerson and moved into Emerson’s house and tutored his children.
But of all his writing, he is best known for the decision he made on Independence Day 1845 to enter the woods at Walden Pond, built a small cabin, and spent two years, two months, and two days there.
His experiment: in self-sufficiency did lead to a book, although it took nine years to get it into the form we know as Walden; or, A Life in the Woods (1854).
It motivated many - some might say too many - people to try their own version. But it did launch future movements of ecology and environmentalism.
Thoreau liked yoga and Hinduism. He contracted tuberculosis, which set his health back.
One night he sat out in the rain counting tree rings on a stump, developed bronchitis and never recovered.
“I wanted to live deep and suck out all the marrow of life, to live so sturdily and Spartan- like as to put to rout all that was not life, to cut a broad swath and shave close, to drive life into a corner, and reduce it to its lowest terms, and, if it proved to be mean, why then to get the whole and genuine meanness of it, and publish its meanness to the world; or if it were sublime, to know it by experience, and be able to give a true account of it in my next excursion.”
It’s also the birthday of (Gaius) Julius Caesar, born in Rome around 100 B.C.
He was the great military leader who managed to capture for the Roman Empire most of what became France and Great Britain.
Caesar wrote his own press releases, sending simple prose that was easy for ordinary people to understand about his military victories and this early social media turned him into a national hero.
As watchers of Shakespeare's play know, he became a bit too popular for the Roman Senate. They forced him to return to Rome. He defied them and crossed the Rubicon River with his army starting a civil war.
He won the war and became the absolute dictator of Rome. Surprisingly, he wanted to redistribute wealth and land. Some senators - Brutus and Cassius are the ones we remember - wanted to bring back the old republic, and they assassinated him on the steps of the Senate.
The senators' plan didn't work anyway. the Roman republic never returned and Rome was ruled by emperors for the rest of the empire’s existence.
What do these people have in common? You tell me.