the last days

Death is an inevitability.
You know that, I know that.
Even when it is your grandmother.

There are there only two things that change,
The tears in your eyes and sadness in your heart.
Because she happens to be your grandmother.

You have seen here her before,
She stared death down and dismissed him.
But this time you know she will not walk away.

She’s had a wonderful life – you reassure yourself,
She might be old enough – you try and reason through this.
It still hurts; no one wants to lose their grandmother.

If it wasn’t this, it would be something else, some other time.
It’s an inescapable inevitability for everyone you have ever met.
Knowing all of this does very little good; she’s your grandmother.

And as much as it bothers you, as much as it hurts you,
You can hardly imagine what your own mother feels.
Or how your grandfather can sit there without constantly sobbing.

Because your grandmother is her only mother.
And your grandmother happens to be the very love of his life.
As personal as it feels, this is hardly about how you feel at all.

There is absolutely nothing anyone can do,
Even you, who often has so many of the answers,
You can only make her last days more comfortable.

So, you make her a pie. You kiss her when you see her.
More than anything, you let her know you love her.
Yes, because she is your grandmother, but also because…

In fact, she was so much to so many.
That’s exactly why it hurts so terribly.
You make the very most of those last days.

That is all you can do.

details and destinies

Do you enjoy your life? Are you looking forward to tomorrow? How much time do you spend thinking about the past? How often do you try to integrate the possibilities you may have had in the past, with the future you find yourself in right now?

One of my all-time favorite novels is Les Miserables. My love for that work is, in large part, due to its treatment of destiny. Victor Hugo states that destinies can hinge on trivial details, such as whether someone is sitting or standing in a given moment. That’s a powerful thought.

I think that most people look back into their pasts and use the really big events to figure out how they got to wherever they are. Generally, I think that is a very narrow and counter-productive perspective. One’s true path to the present is more than likely comprised primarily of details.

That’s not just an idealistic postulation – it’s a mathematically grounded claim. The truth is, most people remember very little of their life. Thousand of moments are forgotten for every one remembered. You can no more interpret your present life with your sparse memories, than you could guess the content of an interesting jigsaw puzzle with a handful of pieces.

Let me tell you what you need to do if you want any hope at all of explaining your life even ten years down the road… You need to remember more of the details. Focus on all those trivialities of your life that you have heretofore neglected to even notice.

Stare into your steeping cup of tea and make yourself remember the way that the color disperses into the hot water. Listen to your orange juice cascading from its jug into your glass. Capture in your mind the weight of the next fork that you chance to use or the smell of your toothpaste. Never forget the way a loved one hugs you when you walk into their home. Seize the details of your life, because they are what comprise your life.

I think you will notice, if you pay more attention to those otherwise lost moments, that Victor Hugo was indeed correct, though possibly not strictly in the sense that he intended. Those details very well may change your life. At the very least, regarding them will enrich your life. You have nothing to lose and everything to gain.

Your future lies before you, unknown to you.

Whether a man notices or neglects the details of his life—destinies hang upon such a thing as that.

2013 – (unnecessary) New Year

I want you to read this slowly: I’ve never met myself.

I can not pin me down. I have pictures, writings, even memories of some self I do not know as well as one thinks that one ought to know one’s self. Every instant that passes marks a change, a departure, from some former mind bound by familial relationships to others, and a social security number. It’s difficult to describe without sounding a bit odd, but that’s because it is odd.

It’s odd, in my mind, because it flies in the face of laws, contracts, obligations, accountability, and continuity. I have spent years thinking about my own identity, and have decided that identity itself, therefor any identity, is not continuous. Identity is constantly evolving, sometimes it rewrites itself identically bit for bit, but other times, probably just as often, it overwrites itself in new and novel ways.

You are not the same now as you were even thirty seconds ago. Your mental state and your molecular state have changed. Your mind and your body have changed.

That’s what’s on my (!) mind for the new year. And the implications of that idea make New Year’s Day basically worthless. New Year’s resolutions and projections are misguided – the hoopla surrounding the New Year itself is utterly misleading. The notion that, for some reason – today– the continuity of your life and your self are to be reflected upon falls quite short of the reality.

You see, today is not special as far as you are concerned. You will be long gone an instant from now, much less a day from now. You can make whatever plans you want for your future self, but that self shall do as it pleases, with the same volition that you have in this moment.

Of course, that isn’t entirely true, now is it? You can force a future self into submission under your current will with the help of unalterable (or not easily alterable) choices. The morality of that seems dubious in my mind, but that is a thought for some other day.

The point is this: you can reinvent yourself in every instant, at any time. In fact, you only exist a moment at a time. You would be better off spending today realizing that, than focusing on this once-a-year “opportunity” for self-modification.

Of course, those are just my thoughts on the matter. And, well, I’ve already left…