Thursday, July 28, 2022
On a day-to-day basis I deal with those to meet their end through various means, some things often beyond their control and others where I can only go "what were you thinking?" Of course, for those, I always hear someone say "It was his time". I have as much faith as the next person as to my God's will for how my life ends but I'm also a firm believer in the outcomes of free will, and sometimes our choices are such that I'm not sure any power could save us.
I've made some pretty stupid decisions in the past, most thankfully left only the scars that are internal, buried deep where only I can see them. My other scars? I've only got a few, one high up on the forehead where I lost a wrestling contest with an engine cover with bungee cords on a Sabreliner, one on my thumb where I lost a wrestling contest over a pen with my Honor's math nemesis Craig (who almost fainted when the little jagged piece of the pocket clip drew blood). Single moments that stand out isolated from their surroundings of the mundane that long since faded from my mind.
A lot of the stupid adventures we have are usually an outcome of youth, that feeling that one is invincible. It is the privilege and sometimes the abrupt end of youth that results in living in advance of its days in the alluring constancy of hope that knows no hesitation or hindsight.
Add in alcohol and you have the perfect recipe for a bad day. I recall recently a young couple who fell 800 feet to their deaths taking a selfie at the edge of a park's high precipice after posting numerous social media posts about other such personal adventures, even posting about the dangers of this regular activity of theirs stating "Is our life worth one photo?" When the remains were recovered under an aloof and indifferent sky, the autopsies completed, they were found to have been quite intoxicated at the time of their fall.
You can learn from your own mistakes, be it altitude, airspeed, or heaven forbid, internet dating. I learned if I wanted to survive whole I had to sometimes fell the past, and move on to safer ground. Still, you lose something in that casting aside of reckless youth even as you realize it’s necessary. I recall how the Romans would grieve when feeling a stand of ancient timber, to thin, or build, or to simply let the light in. If the stand was one of great significance they would make an expiatory offering and pray but they never truly forgot.
The evening was spent out on the covered front porch, enjoying the cooler temperatures. There’s a forest preserve nearby with fox and hawks and other predators creatures that hunt for food, just as some hunt for the pleasure of killing. The latter, when combined with higher intelligence are the ones I fear the most, the scariest threats the ones that blend in so well, so even on a quiet night, my guard is up. But I enjoy this quiet time outside all alone. All around me I could hear the din of the cicadas. Such a unique species, they live underground as nymphs for years only to emerge by nature's summoning for what is usually a very short time, their predators being numerous. Emerging to molt and mate most don't get much further than that before a meeting with death, buried years traded for a few shining days.
So many things accumulated during our buried years, the taste of the air in high places, the sound of a name on our tongue as we ascend higher, a flame of a moment that threads through our own flame, making it burn all the brighter.
I wonder if the cicadas had the capability of thought what would be those thoughts be, there in the ground, not knowing that this is the last safe time they will experience? Would the cicadas stay in their somnolent limbo if they knew their future fate? Would they stay in the ground until they die of natural causes and decay like apples in an abandoned orchard? Or would they answer that siren call of the light? Somehow I think I know the answer to that - the urge to live fully often outshines all of the thoughts of mortality.
I’m probably not the only one that has pondered such things, as their noise fills the twilight's air. The living world we inhabit is full of mysteries and miracles, many of which sparked something in our intelligence and memory that can make the world appear in an enchanted state. But one only has to look at the husks of the cicadas whose song has stilled to know, that the end will always be a question mark, a million ways to say goodbye.
I, for one, have toned down my escapades. I wear my seatbelt, I drive sensibly (we will forget that time I got irritated with the slower driver and gave the “You’re number 1 finger” (but not the appropriate one) to a car full of nuns (there are NOT enough expiatory offerings and prayers to take THAT one away). I take my vitamins, don't drink alcohol, get to sleep early, and actually (please don’t tell anyone) “READ the DIRECTIONS”. But there is still with me a burning fire in both hearth and breast. I'm not quite ready to take to an easy chair, people and places from the past carefully arranged in my mind just so, frozen in amber, a day of a life wasted in remorse.
Tomorrow, Lord willing, is another day, another chance to experience life and breathe even if without a sports car or sweptwing jet to tempt fate in. Another day to let the past go so that those vain imaginings common to us all don’t fill up the soul with either sadness or regret, those tears only small drops in a vast ocean. As I sit in the warmth of the summer sun, the sound of two little kids running amok in the backyard, rescue dog barking, I'll just smile as I get up and grab the fully loaded “Super Soaker” and as they always say. . .
“Here, hold my beer. . . .”