This morning, I skimmed through my journal entries since late November last year. I was looking for something that could start me on a blog for this week. But all I found was evidence that my days are an ebb and flow of family moods and a few writing projects, on behalf of which I seem to engage in more plotting than actual composition.
So now I’m left with a feeling of being rather uninspired; as if my boat is at anchor in the harbor and I’m dreaming of voyages but haven’t yet packed my bags.
This feels natural, or at least an honest reflection of where life has taken me. I might as well acknowledge that I can do worse than accept the shapes and emotional oscillations of my daily engagements: interacting with family members; interacting with people who have become friends and with whom I enjoy shared interests and some history; working on a few tasks both regular and unanticipated; and doing some writing in several contexts. These provide the abiding, at least for now, opportunities to understand my life as a human being.
This life is playing out through a personal consciousness, framed by a set of characteristics that seem to have become unmoored from many of the shared values that once animated them.
My recent reflections don’t provide much in the way of a vision for vigorous living. And this can make me feel sad, worried and disappointed. However this condition provides evidence of an interlude from which I can notice that time is always presenting and inviting a response from me. If I couldn’t rinse dishes for the dishwasher and fill the sink with warm, soapy water for the larger platters and pans each morning—as was the situation for people whom I have known with ALS whose limbs were frozen rigid —what metronome would provide the countdown that keeps offering me a last chance to set sail?
Last week, a friend gave me an article—“What it’s like to learn you are going to die”—that shares the experience of Palliative Care Doctors with their patients. It uses the phrase “existential slap” to describe that moment when someone ‘finally’ (in both senses: “it’s about time” and “this is the end”) realizes that their life is almost over and there’s nothing they can do about it.
I’m certainly in no hurry to find myself in that final stretch when everything I experience will be recognized as being for the last time.
But this drifting among pre-established habits and joyless entertainments, between opinionated judgements and reflexive evasions, which constitute so much of my remaining time in this human body; would that I could notice more often the beauty of this planet spinning in the infinity of time and space.
May there be a few more times
When I appreciate the world rolling beneath my feet
This living planet spinning
Through an infinity of time and space
The Mother of my very being
I know I’ll miss all this
When I can no longer deny
That all that has been given me
Is drifting away in a dream
A dream that is about to end