Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Loving Lasts

There is a last for everything. Which words shall you last read? Who shall you last see? To whom will you last write? Which shall be your last Christmas? What will be your last gift, to receive, or to give? And in the long journey from birth to the precise second of this reading, how many lasts have you not known? We cannot but be ourselves, no matter the choices we make en route from there to here, and at the final period of a given phase, we must but move on.

After 25 years in the same little room, that's what a tenant just did, soon after Christmas. He'd been in the same house, climbed the steep stairs from the back entrance, slipped into his one room, one-window and a toilet and basin abode for 25 years. Some sort of war veteran. Hardly ever said anything. Do not know his past. Do not know his future. Because that house is selling, he was given a termination notice. And now, evidently, he has gone to a new place. Silently, I surveyed the room. The bed was left, made. The carpet was threadbare and stained. The desk was scarred. The chair looked infirm. The window was filthy. The small old portable TV and the digital clock were still plugged in. A jacket was left hanging in the closet, with some dozen hangers, dangling. Two fragile and skeletal old balsa-wood aeroplanes, their propellers missing, were appended to the wall. Like potential, going nowhere. A cardboard box of food-stuffs, boxed cereal, bagged buns, and tinned things lay aside. Not once, in 25 years, had the room been re-painted, refurbished, his life been (know-ably) renewed. Such a protracted stay, the longevity of focus within a small radius of influence, had come to a last moment. Gone. (At the airport, I'm told, there was not even a hug of farewell.) He disappeared into the air, to who knows where.

The last time I phoned my friend, or wrote a letter, or spoke with a him or her may well have been the last time, ever. We grow older. Life has a way of allowing us each comparatively little time on this planet. (There are trees that still stand, even as they did when Shakespeare was alive! There are parrots older than ourselves. Tortoises too!) And in each moment of the living years we breathe and breathe, albeit not always consciously. A purposeful and purpose-driven life is not the purview of all. Many of us are subject to time and circumstance and import directed by others. Yes, man in his time may have seven ages, and each has his entrances and exits, but many are victims to a script not of their own making, and are puppets directed by the displacement of an indelicate or uncaring overseer. Individuality, real individuality of choice and purport gives rise to resistance against the status quo. And in the great bulge of the bell curve we find ourselves concomitant in so very many layers with others, such that our tapestry is their tapestry, and the singular thread of oneself takes shape really in its consort with the passage of the story of humanity itself, our being hardly traceable in its great stitches in time. We blend in. (The last time I checked, my bills needed paying, my taxes are coming up, my days are pretty much the same as the days of persons of my age, and the regular dictum of the day unfolds, despite what individuality I may bring to it.) Yet to everything, there is, was, and will be, a last time.

So, to the point of the needle that threads one's significance into the weave of the whole: We are imbued with a sense of mattering, or not. We matter to others. We matter to ourselves. We matter to the community, directly or indirectly, and we matter to our nation, let alone our world or our universe. The degree of our consciousness about it all variably determines the degree of our awakening. If we are able to surmount the guilt over being a consumer, a user, a contributor toward this or that '-ism', and can integrate our flow with the flux of the whole, torpid and turgid and rigid and structured and survivalist as it proves, we can be at a piece of peace in much of the moments. Or we can be so phlegmatic as not to care much at all, and merely to keep pursuing the self-satisfactions of the daily dictum. Then too, we can wallow in existential crisis after crises, insecure and unsure and uncertain. But it all will only last so long. So, one may as well love the moments, last for last for last, as one is threaded along, consciously, or not.