Thursday, November 28, 2019

Being Thankful Towards the End of Life

I remember my grandfather -- my mother's father -- at the age of 72. That is, I remember him being 72, and an old man. And that he died in 1965 aged about 85 after colon surgery.

Those were the days when you didn't tell people they had cancer.

But this year, 2019, I turned 73. So that makes me an old man! Anyway, I thought this was a good year to make absolutely sure that each of my daughters had heard from me about what I thought about them. I told them both that I thought they were amazing and that it was hard for me to understand how such women could have come from a guy like me.

It was time to tell them that because, I thought, you never know. I could die tomorrow and I wouldn't want that to happen without having told my daughters how much I honored them.

So I got that one under my belt. Or off my chest.

Of course, we all think this is the worst of times. Because political division, etc. But that is rubbish.

Hey! If Dickens could start his novel about the French Revolution with the maxim: "It was the best of times; it was the worst of times," then our world today in America cannot be anything but the best of times.

Let's do the full quote from A Tale of Two Cities, just to make it fair.
It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to Heaven, we were all going direct the other way – in short, the period was so far like the present period, that some of its noisiest authorities insisted on its being received, for good or for evil, in the superlative degree of comparison only.
What Dickens is saying, I suppose, is that we humans tend to imagine that we, at this moment, are the center of the universe: amazing and special and unique -- and also going to hell in a handbasket.

Which we obviously are not. However, each of us is at the center of our personal world and cannot help but experience our life and our world from that position.

The question is: what do we do about it? And, given that I have been reading Nietzsche over the last year, we should give him his chance to tell us what to do (The Will to Power, Book I, Paragraph 55)
Who will prove to be the strongest in the course of this? The most moderate; those who do not require any extreme articles of faith; those who not only concede, but love a fair amount of accidents and nonsense; those who can think of man with a considerable reduction of his value without becoming small and weak on that account; those richest in health who are equal to most misfortunes and therefore not so afraid of misfortunes --  human beings who are sure of their power and represent the attained strength of humanity with conscious pride.
I rather like the notion of loving "a fair amount of accidents and nonsense." Because, you know what? We are all too inclined to want everything serious and tied down and no suprises, thank you.

But the truth about life is that it is full of "accidents and nonsense" and we ought all to accept that.

And be thankful, and stop complaining!

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