I woke up this morning feeling like I was 16 again, but this time in dog years.
I woke up this morning feeling like I was 16 again, but this time in dog years.
Killing time. Seems like a tragedy right? Yet it is perpetrated by even the best of us on occasion. Sadly, those seconds, minutes, hours murdered by insufficient opportunity, or more likely lack of motivation, do not go to heaven. Instead, their fate is at best a purgatory, at worst a nine ring sinkhole of lost chances.
The convenient illusion of immortality allows the mind to condone this senseless act. I do it all the time, but interestingly I’m happiest when killing time is not an option. Pressure, deadlines, overload are easy to complain about, but are they not also the deliverers of at least a temporary sense of purpose? Many feel at their most alive when faced with a task, a timeline, and a clear target. In the absence of these time can often spill into a storm drain that runs to the sea of lost opportunity. I know that I have poured my share of precious moments into that whispering current.
We’ve all heard or said the words, “I’m bored!” It’s easy to accuse the world of not being exciting enough, but it’s just a world. As far as we know, it has no set agenda. The world is probably feeling just fine about things. Boredom then is not a lack of something to do, it is a lack of doing something! Making the most of the moment, or killing time? Worth thinking about the next time we are faced with deciding the fate of a minute or two who’s lives hang in the balance.
Getting back on the horse that threw you, with sharpened spurs. Biting the dog that bit you, should it attack again. Saying the things that will damage or destroy a relationship, things that nonetheless must be said. It is the thing we most want to avoid that when finally faced, opens the door to new possibilities. All freedoms have their price, and most often the deal is done using the currency of courage.
“The Matrix is everywhere. It is all around us. Even now, in this very room. You can see it when you look out your window or when you turn on your television. You can feel it when you go to work… when you go to church… when you pay your taxes. It is the world that has been pulled over your eyes to blind you from the truth.”
Stick around long enough, and the code starts to bleed through the mirage. Look closely, you can see the making behind the look in peoples eyes as you pass them on the street; visualize the stories that lead them to this moment. Repeatable, definable and relatively predictable. The programing that fuels reactions in the faces that fill our days courses just beneath the surface, whispering through the veneer of humanity.
Fear, envy, loathing, or joy, kindness, and warmth begin to reveal their making in the lines of code that run at the core of us all. The same elaborate programming can make some wealthy while leaving others destitute. It forms skyscrapers and homeless camps alike. Inherently this Matrix is neither evil nor righteous, it simply is. It has no nature but that which we give it. It can be altered but only when we ourselves accept its presence. I did not see it until recently, now glimmers and threads appear everywhere I look.
The Matrix is all around us, even now. Can you see it?
My sixteen-year-old son and I were discussing bucket lists the other day. He told me he had only one item on his, which was to attend my funeral.
“Why is that?” I asked.
He looked at me for a moment, “Because I don’t want you to have to attend mine.”
If someone cannot love you for who you really are,
be sure that someone
Now you see me, now you don’t.
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!”