Yesterday I walked into my first day of kindergarten. I blinked and had a bachelors degree. A few days later I held my, ten-minute old baby boy, I blinked and he’s gone to college. We all feel it, the Einsteinian vortex that turns days into years, then decades into nanoseconds. All in the blink of an eye.
I am aware of the fact that I overuse the word ‘bittersweet,’ but I’ve not as yet found a more suitable way to describe this beautiful, sorrowful adventure. ‘Love’ is another word that some feel falls in the category of overused. I personally love the concept of the bittersweetness of life, so there.
In the presence of things we love we don’t want to blink. We don’t want to miss a moment. Then eyes shut tight when boredom, discord, or darkness flood our tiny worlds. So then it is the case that we choose to be open, to be present, or to blink, to escape. Hungry eyes open wide for the moments we cherish or crave, then clench to deflect pain or fear or push tears as they wash over us. Human nature, yes.
It’s easy to watch our loves grow up, not so to watch them grow weary and wither. Blink, and you’ll miss it, but what is it? The person you could have spent a mostly happy life with? Your children’s childhood or perhaps your own? The chance to create something beautiful that instead will never be? Adulthood takes on the quality of endlessness for a time, the perfect breeding ground for the cunning cancer of complacency.
We cannot stop the ‘illusion of time,’ but we can choose to challenge its passage with vigilance. When the days grow short, and memory becomes our most precious holding; when we painstakingly replay the moments of our lives, will we rejoice in, or regret the choices we’ve made? How much will we have truly seen, known, or touched? How much will we have lost to the blink of an eye?
In My Time of Dying – Thank you, Led Zeppelin, for the opening line : )~
As to the next line of the aforementioned song, I won’t go so far as to discourage mourners, for that will no longer be an issue within my sphere of influence.
I will say though that I would prefer a celebration! Just sayin’.
Claiming a life well lived would be mine to conclude on the way out, and a point with which others could agree or debate, but again when the time comes such agreements or disagreements will be of small importance, at least to me.
What I do know is that for those I’ve loved, I will not be gone. A singing cardinal on the maple branch at dawn, a sudden thundershower, a new favorite song, I’ve loved those things in this life, and so they will always be a part of me, and I a part of them in the lives of those who carry on.
In my time of dying, I wish peace, tranquility, and acceptance for any who might grieve. Most importantly, I want them to know they have been loved with all the commitment and earnest appreciation that a human being could have mustered in one small lifetime.
In my time of dying please play the following song, for those I’ve loved, those I did not have the pleasure of coming to know, and for me, if only in the form of memory.
P.S. My health is currently delightfully good. I was just having a dust in the wind moment and thought I’d get it all down while it was fresh.
My youngest is going camping with his friends this weekend. We’ve amassed quite the collection of camping gear over the years, so of course, we spent Thursday evening setting up numerous tents in the living room to determine which one would be best suited for the adventure. Sounds of nylon against carbon fiber filled the room as tent poles slid through support loops and various forms of portable housing took shape.
Somehow Game of Thrones came up. Amidst the racket, I heard my eldest ask,
“Is Peter Dinklage an elf?”
“No,” I responded, “he’s a dwarf. There are no such things as elves.”
My son gave me that look; you know the one teenagers give you when they realize you’re going deaf, or crazy, or whatever.
“No Dad, was Peter Dinklage ‘in’ Elf ? You know, the movie?”
Laughter joined the sound of rustling nylon, filling the room.
The luckiest person in the world? Perhaps it’s the guy who parachuted from space and lived to tell (Felix Baumgartner), or the one lottery winner who didn’t destroy his life with his winnings. Maybe it’s the girl who against all odds married the perfect man, the happy soul who put everything he had on Apple stock at $14 back in the day, or you, or me for that matter?
Hard work is well known to set the odds in one’s favor. However, sayings are “sayings” for a reason, and I appreciate the expression “It’s better to be lucky than good” for the sheer cheek it waves in one’s face. Some say that luck can be defined as the moment “when opportunity meets preparedness,” which I believe to be the best explanation I’ve heard to date, but that definition doesn’t account for the inherent cruelties of life.
In the last four weeks, the engine computer on my car died, relegating it to the role of the world’s largest paperweight. I wrecked hard on my mountain bike, cracking the rear axle and destroying my front forks. My employer of twenty-four years put the entire staff on notice that things were, to say the least, not looking rosy. Two friends of mine perished in freak car accidents, and my father and best friend both find themselves in the late stage throes of leukemia, options dwindling. Unluck seems to abound. Challenging, heartbreaking, costly, income free times have presented themselves. Lady Luck, are you listening? There are people out there who could use your assistance.
It’s not me who needs the gift of luck. Those grieving needed the luck. Those besieged by disease need the luck. My trivial trials can still be wrestled into submission by hard work, by preparedness, and a dash of opportunity…for now. In spite of the rather steep downturn that’s befallen this house in the last month light still shines; dimmed a bit by recent events but glimmering none the less. Glass half empty, glass half full, glass accidentally dropped after too many glasses, whatever. Isn’t it all an elaborate brocade featuring equal parts whim of fate and the choices we make? A bittersweet symphony.
I’ve jumped from an airplane 57 times, but never from space. I’ve purchased a lottery ticket, or two hundred, and once won $3.00. I married for love, but no amount of effort proved adequate to hold the union in place. I bought Apple stock at $200, after the split, and have no profit to show for it. On the other hand, I have a loving family, two amazing young men who I am honored to assist on their journey to adulthood. They light up the world as though every day is a fusion of the fourth of July and the summer solstice. Based on this fact alone, I consider myself, through no doing of my own, to be in the running for the title of, “Luckiest person in the world!”
It’s always darkest before the dawn, but what if dawn never breaks?
Optimism vs. fortitude.One is outcome dependent, the other self-sustaining. Dark times come, and hopefully, go, but “hope” is not a strategy. The only meaningful goal then is to endure, rather than to dream of being rescued.
As the midnight storm clouds bare their icy fangs I brace for the knife blade deluge of unexpected misfortune this season demands.
My dream home came up for sale today. It is not a house to which many would ascribe that moniker. However, It is the very place where my sons did much of their growing up. As it happened, our home was sacrificed, like so many, on the altar of marital dissolution.
The boys and I have spoken often of the dream of one day buying it back, of reclaiming our ‘home.’ Sure the brick facade has been painted over and someone else has imprinted it with their concept of ‘home,’ but with some blood, sweat, and tears, we would make it ours again.
After hours on the phone with bankers, it appears those hopes have been dashed by the advent of ‘market appreciation’ relative to my income. Dreams are fickle things. My heart, though full with the bounty of my good fortune, is a bit heavy today.
Current front-runner for ‘line of the week’ at my house:
“Never watch Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer with my dad. He pauses the video every five minutes to point out when Santa is being a dismissive, disrespectful, self-serving ass, and that such behavior is totally unacceptable!”
My eldest, issued this warning his girlfriend on an early June afternoon. 😂