Saturday, August 3, 2013

Is this it?

Bad news, too much of it, has been seeping into our lives lately.  We have friends with Parkinson's and MS whose symptoms have been flaring up badly, and a young woman's cancer is back.  The treatment of her illness sounds grim--radiation, chemo, the whole sordid works of modern medical warfare.  Jodi's having knee problems.  My finger is blown for climbing, and I pulled a shoulder doing tree work.  Meanwhile, these first days of August seem to almost mock the darkness within.  Perfect, happy skies, cool nights, a firm commitment from the Earth that autumn will come.  We get out into the beauty of it all and savor the bright skies and wind in the trees.  The Earth does not mock, of course, but the contrasts of the inner and outer worlds can be striking sometimes.  With the hard news of our young friend, I play the game with myself, one I try to do more often these days:  What if today were the last one?  What if this is it, my last day?  What would I do?  Would I live it differently?

If we are aware, conscious beings, we know our time is limited, that one day we will awake to our last sunrise, see our last sunset.  How do we not go screaming off into the woods?  Some do.  I don't know about the screaming part, but going off into the woods always seems like a good idea.  Getting out for a ride, taking a walk with a good four-footed friend, enjoying the dusty green oak leaves against a morning sky, these are the best ways for me to fight back, to take in what is too certainly draining away, the precious, limited time we have.  I don't always succeed, but every day I strive for a few moments of reflection and appreciation.  Some of us are really unlucky, born into a war-torn Somali village, the child of alcoholic abusers, an orphan adrift on the diseased streets of Calcutta.  But for those of us with the time, freedom, and income to be reading these words on the Internet, finding moments of grace shouldn't be so hard.  They're out there, carried on the funny laugh of a quail in the sage, the smile of a loved one, the racing wind in your ears as the mountain falls away into the distance and your wheels accelerate, the embrace of gravity's desire.

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