Life’s pains and cruelties, like its joys, are produced by people doing good, and doing not good. Acts of commission and omission, we do unto others. And we do unto ourselves great service and disservice, so must not forget we are muscle. Each of us, a singular muscle in need of exercise and work and heavy lifting. Otherwise we wither, atrophy and become weakness nobody would ever quest for.
There is some solution.
There has to be.
To be heard, to be seen, to be acknowledged – we all want this, not on some big stage, but on a small one, built for one. One stage, one chair, one show – right there, that’s the ticket.
Life is what we give far more than what we get – but some days it would be nice to get more, a little more, before the time when there is no more.
I wrestle sttill, with that self-eulogy I’m writing for Gary – those thoughts, that mandate, interweaved with two other pieces I’m doing about two other people, one gone, one waiting still, hanging on. To tell their stories, not mine, their viewpoints, not mine imposed on them. Their values, not mine.
I feel contradiction of hefty proportion – viewing one individual to another, life fully lived, their vitality depleted and drained until nothing left of their physicality yet brimming with inestimable acts and joys spread with their hearts vis-à-vis ones that, like those young felled trees, chopped down too soon. They had urge and right to much more living, to grow more rings, to laugh through more seasons, play for more summers, survive more winters. Incalculable reasoning, to live it so very well, not live it up, but to live it so resolutely, arriving breathless at its eventual ending.
What is it that makes one life more valuable than any other? Here at home our insular life would prompt most of us to say – “they are all equally valuable”. But when we examine geo-political messes, clearly humanity and inhumanity have a strange approach to fair or justice, or value of life.
My question for self, for others, for anyone – is whether we can do more and better for life, for this world, by giving up and shrinking away or if we can do so much more than we ever imagined by living more thoroughly.
For me these answers ring far more clear than their questions. Whether our perspective is rearward regretful or forward hopeful, what matters is hope and belief in our own value to ourselves first, to others second … and every other thing or person after that, down the list to the point where there is little value left for anyone – let that be my last ounce of live and living, spent full. I’ll need no change.
Whether we sit in some place that life passes by, or if we play in heavy traffic – negotiating turns, as our youthful memory yearns for faster, races to finish line because it might not hurt as much as would a slow journey.
What do we chase, pursue – or waste away longing for?
For what we might have been, seen or accomplished – place we never went to, feelings we never meant to … experience, but then we did and our appetite grew to feast again on what we had and might never have again.
When we spend money to buy things or experiences, we pay for it with cash or credit – and sometimes we get change.
But spending time is different – because it gets spent whether we use it well or not. When we spend time with people who matter, we get change. Not the jingling in your pockets kind, but change in who we are and how we see the world. Many might not agree with me, but that is how I see it.
Little lambs and sapling trees – like us, most will live long and prosper. Some will fall but they will have laughed in sunshine, loved rain and faced wind – valued so much the warmth of other lambs and sapling fellowship.
Life and death are not cruel – or unusual, they are normal parts of life. We all get one of each. No second chance, no do-over. And it seems we save too much of the celebrating until after someone is gone – and I’m wrestling with that idea, about what we could do more and better before the end.
Old Ben Farnham was so right – he advised me to cultivate more younger friends because one day all our contemporaries would be gone. A reminder of that again yesterday as I saw Hugh’s obituary. We were not close colleagues but we did some business together, we both had daughters named Carla – we sat inches apart at Edmonton Eskimo games for 25 years, his seats at centre field, row 20 when ours were right behind him in row 21. Gone, but not forgot.
Spending time, as we so often repeat our reminders, is spent life-bits while we search for whatever it is that won’t feel cold, isolated or desperate, filling the absence of something with something else, putting more fuel in the fire when it is just embers we want.
Let us toast then ~ “to embers” and “to saplings” and “lambs” and “to old-farts too”.
column written/ published from Calgary
morning walk: 1C / 34F, sunny, strong Chinook winds, snow banks slumping, streets getting wet, Gusta champing at the bit to run while hill-sidewalks remain treacherous …