Well, I’m back to work full time, or rather my usual half time. I feel mostly okay most days. I’ve slowed down thinking about my mortality.
Well, I’m still thinking about my mortality, just not as morbidly as I was before. I’m going to die. I’m GOING to die. Everyone is GOING to die and I’m no exception.
Just not right now.
Intellectually, I’m a fan of mortality.
On all levels, mortality seems like a blessing. I know our culture doesn’t see it that way, but it is.
On a global level, it’s easy to see how the balance of mortality and reproduction has to remain stable so that we don’t overwhelm the Earth. We are, in fact, in the process of overwhelming the Earth with ourselves and our by products. Any habitat must achieve equilibrium or risk the suffering of its individuals and the habitat itself. Have you ever seen the destruction and starvation caused by an overpopulation of deer? I have. New Jersey, 1986. I agree that it is difficult for our minds to comprehend our actions on a global level, but it’s starting to sink in, isn’t it? The one problem, the potentially catastrophic problem that we have is a result of our resistance to mortality combined with our love for procreation.
Oh, we might mitigate the problem with science and a reduction of our dependence on fossil fuels, but climate change is, ultimately, about population.
But I have to admit that I have been repulsed by any attempt to limit either the birth rate, for example, China’s one-child law, or any limit on a person’s age. What was the name of that movie, where people were put to death when they got too old? Apparently, there is more than one. Logan’s Run was the oldest one I could find. They were cut off at age thirty!
Plus, I’ve heard scientists describe death as a scourge to be conquered.
On a local level. It’s a little harder to see the benefits of mortality in your neighborhood. Your friends and the nice people at the grocery store would never die, but neither would that crazy guy who stares across the fence at the elementary school and curses at other pedestrians. Food and housing would get scarce. Seattle is a good example. Teachers can’t afford to live in the neighborhoods where they teach. Food and gas are much more expensive, not scarce, but demand has had its impact. Traffic is a nightmare. Imagine if everywhere was like the metropolis that lay between Washington DC and Boston, one continuous city. People would have to be rooftop farmers. Livestock would live in enclosed buildings all their lives. Oh right. much of livestock already lives cramped and miserable lives, never seeing fields or
And there’s the experiment run by John B. Calhoun, who described the collapse of society when too many rats were put together in a cage. The rats couldn’t procreate or nurture their young, cannibalized each other, prevented groups from accessing food, and generally lost their peaceable social skills. Would that happen to people? Just think of the occurrences of rage on increasingly cramped flights.
And there is the effect of mortality on an individual. I can tell you about that. The past six weeks of kidney stone pain combined with my oxygenation problem left me knowing I could die sooner than later or or leave me brain damaged. As I struggled to breathe, on what felt like it could be my deathbed, I grieved over Mike and Nick. What would my loss do to them? Was Nick old enough to manage without a mother? And there were things I needed to accomplish.. I was not done. I wanted to fulfill my purpose before I died.
Now that I’m not dying, my priorities are more clear. My love and that of people around me is a solid presence, not just an ephemeral fog. I don’t take things for granted, at least not now. My time is limited. I can noodle around, but I can’t waste it. (Noodling around can be fun.)
So, think about your mortality. It’s not morbid.
Who is important to you? Make the presence of that love a solid presence in your life. Tell them. Feel that joy.
What is your purpose? Do one thing today toward that purpose, even one small thing. Then, schedule yourself to completion. Tell people about what you want to do before you die, about your dreams.
I guarantee that the world will be a better place if you act on that purpose.
I’m sure that people will be better off if you tell them that you love them.
Thank you for listening, jules