Sunday, April 28, 2013

Feeling Vulnerable

Friday evening I attended a wake for a friend's husband. Bill was 60 years young. Tomorrow my 62 year old brother, who's just finished three months of chemotherapy, will meet with his team of doctors in Pittsburgh to discuss whether or not his tumor is now operable. Another co-worker, still in her forties, had heart surgery last week. And then, of course, there was Boston, followed by Bangladesh. The arbitrary nature of disease and death is all around us and fairness has nothing to do with it.

I often think that I dwell on this subject more than is healthy, kicking it around in my head while I'm mowing the lawn or working in the garden. It's one of the great mysteries, isn't it. People of faith believe that they have the answer - how marvelous to be so certain! But those of us who are doubting Thomases see options too, just not so definitively.
Human beings are, after all, a mash up of water, bone, genetic material and that intangible life force that could be called the soul, at least it is an element that exudes energy and that energy has to go someplace, doesn't it?

I can almost believe that, after we are dead, that energy could exist out there in another dimension and recognize that of others who have gone before. It might explain the light at the end of the tunnel. Certainly people are making small fortunes penning books describing their near-death experiences and our customers, judging by the holds lists, are desperate to be convinced. Still, I doubt that I can take my books with me and sometimes, when I look at all the worlds of words that await me just in my bookcase alone, I think, "I don't want to be greedy but damn I want to get a chance to read those books before I go!"

On the other hand, if what comes after this life is simply a void, well then the good news is, we won't know what we're missing! Only our families, lovers, and friends will be left to say, "I'm so sorry she didn't live long enough to do this or see that."

So I guess all this philosophizing has come to a head because of my pending retirement - ten more days. I wobble back and forth between exhilaration and guilt. Is 64 years young too young to go? Am I being selfish? Should I have waited until I had more money in the bank? No, I have to feel confident that my innate good sense and that ineffable something that speaks to us in our subconscious minds, is correct and that my timing is right.

The next phase of my life is about to begin and I look to it with trepidation and joy. I dare not tempt fate by saying, "there's so much I want to do!" (though there is)  I realize how inordinately fortunate I've been, known so many wonderful people, seen so many different parts of the world, worked in the best and worst of jobs, flourished in a rewarding career that allowed me to earn a living doing what I love. Can I ask for anything more? Yes! Yes! Yes!

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