I’ve been thinking about writing this post for a while. Garry and I are in an age group where our friends, colleagues, and family who are our age all have some kind of physical problem. It may be minor. Just something requiring medication that’s easily controlled. It might be deadly, sooner or later. Or, we might be exceptionally healthy and still get hit by a truck or be so busy photographing the waves that we fall off the cliff.
In the course of lockdown, we lost our two old Scotties in one month. Never assume that losing pets is less heartbreaking than losing a person, by the way. Sometimes, it’s worse. it turns out they were the appetizer and the main dishes were still to come. After that, we lost a handful — or more (it’s hard to remember) — of colleagues and friends. We already lost all the older members of our families, so the rest of them, all around our age, are (knock on wood) doing fine. Ironically, lockdown notwithstanding, we didn’t lose anyone to COVID. Mostly, it was cancer. Breast, lung, melanoma. In the not yet lethal department, there was Parkinson’s, glaucoma, rheumatoid and osteoarthritis. Lots of breathing problems — it was a very bad year for pollen — and of course, heart disease and blood pressure issues,
If there is any irony in this, it was how pretty much all the people who passed were younger than us — often quite a lot younger. Complain though we may, it could be worse — or at least, different since I’m not sure what exactly death means.
I live in a kind of amorphic, mystical languor about death. I would like to die and move to a beautiful world or a new life, but all I expect is emptiness. I should probably want to know what’s happening with everyone’s health, but I really don’t. All it does is depress me. I can’t make anyone better. I can’t even offer a decent platitude because platitudes get stuck in my teeth and I can’t spit them out.
None of this means I’ve given up on life but I’ve absolutely given up on worrying about death. I’m going to die. We are all going to die. Today, tomorrow, or down the road — something will take us out. An illness. An accident. A big surprise or a long, slow passage. One way or the other, we’ll all get there.
Ever since the lockdown, I’ve realized I can’t fix things. I doubt I ever could, but when I was young I was sure if I tried hard enough I could change the world. Not change it in a big way. I knew I wasn’t going to discover a cure for cancer or invent a time travel machine. But I thought maybe I could make a difference in small ways, Maybe I could convince a few people that we can make the world better by being better.
Today, I look around, and I see people who really believe the world is flat or the earth is hollow and weird creatures live in the middle. Or better yet, we live in the middle and those twinkly things in the sky are an illusion caused by The Deep State. It must be a very, very, VERY deep state to make space appear to be space and not look like one of those tawdry painted backdrops you can see in old movies.
I don’t know how I wound up living in a country full of people who think the louder they yell or rant — or the more killing they do — that somehow, they are accomplishing something.
Maybe they are lost and all this weird crap they believe is supposed to make up for a reality that has faded away.
Everything ends. Animals, trees, rocks, stars, and galaxies. I’m not going to worry about the end. Not only won’t I be around to see it, but it’s on the Big Agenda of Life On Earth. Maybe it’s a good thing.