Friday, February 14, 2014

An Old Man Contemplates Death


Dear Reader,

Please indulge me today as I chew on a few of my own philosophies; about the winter of my life and how our creator seems to affect a natural transition to death.  Please don't think this morbid, for I still revel in many joys in life…they are just more basic, more simple, less concerned with niceties or the superficial that's in vogue this month..or this year.

Now I don't claim to own the franchise on how older people think.  I've seen folks far older than me who act and feel young and are as "hep" about the current goings on as someone in their thirties.  Good for them.  But I do believe that most people evolve through their lives and, in the autumn of their life, begin to reassess what's important and what's floss.  

Let me explain.  Up until I was fifty or so I enjoyed a night out dancing, a few hours of good conversation over dinner, perhaps a good bar with Sinatra singing quietly in the background.  That was my transition from disco dancing and Long Island Ice Teas, 2AM breakfasts at Denny's, spirited fights with my mate, an evangelical fondness for football and even a hangover once in a while.

At work I fought to be the best, "Mr Indispensable", the cock that ruled the roost.  My ambition was every bit as strong as in my twenties.  When I finally retired it was only because employers no longer wanted to hire fifty year olds, at least in the professions for which I was most suited.  So even my retirement was but a gradual progression into "the retirement years".  

Well, in those first years of "ease" I was surely a bit of a confused mess….stuck between the desire to get up and go to work and a growing uneasiness of once again plunging back into the occupational rat race.  Whatever meaning life had for me during those first few years probably consisted of enjoying fleeting moments of temporary pleasure…but certainly no enduring satisfaction with the path my life was taking.

It was then that I developed lung cancer.  The first few weeks were the hardest as I read the sobering statistics of a 15% survival rate.  But once I went into surgery, and they cut out a precious piece of my left lung, and once I began to undergo six months of chemotherapy, my life began to take on new meaning.  For all of the first year after my diagnosis that "meaning" was  simply preparing how to best face my imminent death.  Then, as each year went by, I began to look upon my time, post cancer, as "bonus days" to be savored and thankful for.  And, then, as each annual cat scan showed me clear of cancer I began to live again….but now fully aware that the grim reaper looms large over my shoulder.

Now, try to understand this; the thought of death does not depress me…it takes all of us, the rich and famous and the humblest of people.   It is as natural as birth and should be accepted and not feared.

No, what occupies my philosophies these days is how our creator transitions us toward that final end.  I value peace above all things, material or otherwise.  Some of you might think that strange, given my Don Quixote swings at liberalism…instead, it is my quest for peace, my ultimate desire to be left alone, to think how I please, to do as I please, that spurs me to fight the liberal brown shirts who would tell me how to eat and drink and think about government and society.  Were I not able to blow off steam in these blogs I would surely be a basket case…thus, the very process of battling liberalism gives me peace.

Back to the "transition".  When I was younger I loved going to movies.  Each year i loved watching the Academy Awards and rooting for my favorite actor, my favorite movie.  Same thing with music; I always enjoyed the hits of the day and watched the Grammys and rooted for my tonsorial heroes.
And I watched my share of "Love Boats" and "Fantasy Islands" and "Dallas" and "Cheers" and spent a lot of my time in front of the TV.

In my "autumn"…or "winter" most likely, I care not a whit for who won Best Actor, what flick won "Best Picture" and haven't been to a movie since "Forest Gump" in 1994.  Not to say I haven't watched a few on DVD or on television, when I deemed them worthy of a few hours, but no movie theaters, no cell phones ringing, no rude theater goers, no loud speakers blasting away for me.  The same with music…I can count on a single hand the music produced in the last decade that touched me in any way.  As to hip hop and rap, well, they may as well be doing kabuki in Africa, so strange and alien it is to me.

And my TV is now limited to documentaries and old movies and TV shows from the 50's and 60's.  Many of them don't hold up well but at least they mesh with the culture I grew up in.

Finally, while I'm all for racial equality, I don't understand today's ethnic pampering, or, to me, the new world turned upside down where the immoral is rewarded and the American work ethic is laughed at, with those who believe in it scorned and labeled racist and redneck.

Are you getting my point?  My thesis here is that our creator begins to ween us off the material things, the superficial things, as we get older.  It is almost as if he is working to ease our pain at leaving any of it when we pass on.  ATTENTION ALL THOSE UNDER 50!  I know you don't get this…it also our creator's intention that you NOT get it; you must keep those youthful juices flowing in order to feed, educate, medicate and shelter your loved ones…not time for an "old folk transition" yet.  That too is how it should be.  And, lest you think old fogies like me live in some gray world without joy, worry not.  My heart can still thrill to a wonderful play, a great book, to news of great heroism or nobility…it's just that I can now be joyful and happy just sitting on my back patio and listen to a chorus of birds singing their morning songs.  I can now, after more than half a century of fighting poverty, fighting wars, worry about raising a family…I can now lay my head on my pillow at night and sleep the sleep of the innocents, knowing I'm good with my creator.

When I was but a young child, before I drifted off to sleep, I was careful to say that childhood prayer…"if I should die before I wake, I pray the lord my soul to take"…Though I certainly endorse those sentiments, I am no longer quaking with a youthful uncertainty about my fates.  I have already "transitioned" into an acceptance….I have packed all that matters and will begin my final journey when my creator decides the time.

I pray that all of you, regardless of age, ultimately achieve the peace that I have found just two months short of my 66th year.  


Craig Bailey said...

Have a good and peaceful weekend.

Anonymous said...

Well put, the meaning of life is nebulus at best, understanding our mortality helps us to focus on what is important. Your essay shows more understanding of the human condition than any politician could con us with!
Thank you

A Modest Scribler said...

Thanks, Craig…and the same to you.

A Modest Scribler said...

Thank you, anon.

Anonymous said...

Dear Scribler.. can I email you?
what is your email address? I have something I want to ask you about this post.

Army officer.

A Modest Scribler said...

Anon, my email address is By the way, should you forget it in the future, just click on my "PROFILE" on the left side of the page..then hit "email" and that brings up an email window to me.

Carol said...

Beautifully said. Enjoy this wonderful spring-like weekend!

A Modest Scribler said...

Thanks, Carol! You enjoy yours as well!