Children of the Days

From the Book

And the days began to walk.
And they, the days, made us.
And thus we were born,
the children of the days,
the discoverers,
life’s searchers.
--GENESIS, according to the Mayas

January 1
Today is not the first day of the year for the Mayas, the Jews,
the Arabs, the Chinese or many other inhabitants of this world.

The date was chosen by Rome, imperial Rome, and blessed by
Vatican Rome, and it would be an overstatement to say that all humanity
celebrates today as the crossing from one year to the next.

That said, today we ought to acknowledge that time treats
us rather kindly. Time allows us, its fleeting passengers, to believe
that this day could be the very first day, and it gives us leave to
want today to be as bright and joyous as the colors of an outdoor

February 11
While the year 1962 was being born, an unknown musical group, two guitars, bass, and drums, auditioned for a record company in London.

The boys returned to Liverpool and sat down to wait.

They counted the hours, they counted the days.

When they had no nails left to bite, on a day like today, they received a response. Decca Recording Company told them frankly, “We don’t like your sound.”

They went further. “Guitar groups are on the way out.”

The Beatles did not commit suicide.

March 22
World Water Day
We are made of water.

From water life bloomed. Rivers of water are the blood that nourishes the earth, and of water too are the cells that do our thinking, the tears that do our crying and the recollections that form our

Memory tells us that today’s deserts were yesterday’s forests and that the dry world knew well enough to stay wet in those remote days when water and earth belonged to no one and to everyone.

Who took the water? The monkey that raised the club. If I remember correctly, that’s how the movie 2001: A Space Odyssey begins. The unarmed monkey, meanwhile, got clubbed to death.

Sometime later, in the year 2009, a space probe discovered water on the moon. The news sparked plans of conquest.

Sorry, moon.

April 18
Keep an Eye on This Guy
Today in 1955 Albert Einstein died.

For twenty-two years the FBI tapped his telephone, read his mail and went through his garbage.

They spied on Einstein because he was a spy for the Russians. So said his bulky police file. The file also said he had invented a death ray and a robot that could read minds. It said Einstein was a member, collaborator or fellow traveler of thirty-four Communist front organizations between 1937 and 1954, and was honorary chair of three Communist organizations. It concluded: “It seems unlikely that a man of his background could, in such a short time, become a loyal American citizen.”

Not even death saved him. They continued spying on him. Not the FBI, but his colleagues, men of science who sliced his brain into two hundred forty pieces and analyzed them to find an explanation for his genius.

They found nothing.

Einstein had already warned, “I have no special gift. I am only passionately curious.”

May 30
From the Stake to the Altar
On this day in 1431, a nineteen-year-old girl was burned alive in the old marketplace at Rouen.

She climbed the scaffold wearing an enormous cap, which said:


After she was burned to death, her body was thrown from a bridge into the Seine, so the waters would carry her far away. She had been condemned by the Catholic Church and the Kingdom of France.

Her name was Joan of Arc.

Heard of her?

June 21
We Are All You

Today’s soccer match in 2001 between Treviso and Genoa was a surprise.

One of Treviso’s players, the Nigerian Akeem Omolade, was often greeted in Italy’s stadiums with whistles and jeers and racist chants.

But today there was silence. The other ten Treviso players had all painted their faces black.

July 25
Recipe for Spreading the Plague

In the fourteenth century fanatical custodians of the Catholic faith declared war on cats in Europe’s cities.

These diabolical animals, instruments of Satan, were crucified, skewered, skinned alive or chucked into bonfires.

Then the rats, liberated from their worst enemies, came to rule the cities. And the Black Death, transmitted by rats, killed thirty million Europeans.

Copyright © 2013 by Nation Books