In New Zealand November 5th, my birthday, is fireworks day. This marks an event from British history when the somewhat over enthusiastic Catholic revolutionary, Guy Fawkes, was prevented from blowing up the parliament buildings including the entire government. His famous ‘gunpowder plot was foiled and he met a severely unpleasant end. The British and their colonies have celebrated this day ever since. If you’ve ever seen the film ‘V for Vendetta’, you may recall that this story is central to the plot.
But what it meant for us as children was FIREWORKS!
When all of New Zealand erupted with fireworks on the day of my birth, my three year old brother, Christian, naturally assumed it was because of me! In his super imaginative mind his new baby brother was clearly some kind of mini-messiah.
Then when the nation celebrated my first birthday with more fireworks, his suspicion was only confirmed.
Christian and I enjoyed a special relationship. He was the real smart one in our family, and he became my first teacher, vainly attempting to explain philosophy to me when I was eight, pushing me to confront my fears, stretching my imagination and encouraging me to overcome my weaknesses. This remarkable wizard and disciple relationship was central throughout the magical years of my childhood.
Christian never told me the story of his infant fantasy about my birth. I only learned it from my niece last year. Finally I understood why my brother was, for so many years, my first true mentor.