By Mark David Blum
What do I do in the early morning hours of a dark and cold Sunday morning? Think.
Stick your hand in a bucket of water. Swish and stir your hand all around until the water is splashing in chaos. Remove your hand and watch. In but a moment, the waters return to their calm state.
This is the story of life. It keeps things in perspective. No matter how much noise or attention you garner while you swish and splash your way through life, upon your death, the waters will again return to the state in which they existed prior to your arrival.
I read this morning of a challenge to write your own obituary. Being as depressed as I have been of late as I race upon my 50th, writing an obituary seemed an appropriate thing to do. Having completed about 2/3 of my life with no real ‘mark’ made upon the world, I fear that when my time is up, there will indeed be a quick return to calm waters. This is the ghost that haunts my nightmares and follows them into the daylight.
A writer has but a single obligation and that is to be honest in his words. Poe argued that readers can leave it to themselves to determine what if any moral exists in any tale. To outright state a moral is meaningless because the writer is writing what the muse commands. Let the reader hunt and peck. A tale found to be found lacking a moral is the fault of the reader.
Being honest with readers at the same time you sit to write an obituary provides the ugliest of mirrors. What will they say? They will say nice things that have no deep meaning and throw me into a cold wet hole. Fifty years have nearly passed and the waters still remain calm. Though I may lack the capability to keep the waters stirred much beyond my demise, it would be nice to just once, have my hand in the bucket and make quite a ruckus.
But what can I find that would be so stirring that the silent waters will heave up and splash. Too many times I have reached for the bucket, only to find my hand knocked away. Others are playing in the water and my turn has to wait. The invitation is not to be forthcoming; of that, I am convinced. So Diogenes and I continue our search for our own bucket in which we can thrust our hands and leave our mark upon the world. Though I will eventually depart, perhaps the momentum I create will draw others to the bucket and the splashing will continue past my death. Few of us get that opportunity; to reach out beyond themselves and motive others.
My obituary: He’s dead. ‘Nuff said. He did what genetics and DNA command. Procreated and reproduced, produced and stayed out of the way: These are the things he did and which were his human obligation. He passed on his genetic code and gave contributing thoughts on how society should organize itself. Those are the two essential human requirements to enable our species to flourish and grow.
Beyond that, only a handful or few out of billions leave a greater mark. Time has shown me I am not to be one of the “few”. I accept my limitations and set out to stir no more waters. You do not have to die to let waters calm. Just living your life without impacting upon others is a stir free lifestyle. You can be happy or miserable, rich or poor, busy or bored and still not move a drop. Or, you can throw all you have into stirring and boiling the pot. The question becomes “for what?” Why bother splashing water all around when it will just return to calm and the hole in the water made by my fist will instantly fill up the moment I am gone.
In my earlier days I saw a film titled, The Dead Poet’s Society and which film introduced a new Latin phrase to the American vernacular. “Carpe Diem” was the battle cry of the movie. “Seize the day”, “live for the day” is a powerful comment. Unfortunately in the real world, we have to live and plan for future days so our Carpe has to be tempered every Diem.
Me, I am much more pragmatic. Carpe Momento is Span-Latin for “live for the moment” or “seize the moment”. Living for the day or seizing the day is too big of a requirement. Will you be alive after lunch? Will you have a chance to kiss your loved ones goodnight?
Right now we are all in our moment. Whether we are sipping coffee, saving lives, or parenting, whatever we are doing, that should be our bucket. Maybe if we dint see life itself as a single bucket but rather a series of buckets and we walk from one to another. I speak not of a particular journey because the buckets lead nowhere. But as we go through out lives, at 15 or 50, in front of us at any given moment, is a particular bucket. Ignore it your own risk. But if we remain focused on just the moment we are in, then there is to be found peace and comfort. Think not of tomorrow or later but just of the moment.
Imagine living an entire life, hopscotching from bucket to bucket, from moment to moment, causing a small stir here and total chaos there. Is this a better life that one with a far off bucket or whether our egos demand we be in that small class of persons whose ideas transcend generations? I have no idea and really have no interest in finding out. Twenty five years, give or take, is all I expect to have left. Given how fast the time went from age 25 to 50, I will pass on trying to do more than is expected of me. My ideas are meaningless unless you live and see the world through my eyes. Expressions and thoughts thrown onto computer bytes and organized to be read are of no real relevance to anyone not touched or moved by the underlying event. Though I share as best I can, my letters are filtered through prism’d eyes. See the world your own way and let your own heart be your guide. Time is short, fast, and brutal.
How should I write my own obituary? I have no idea because I will never know what if any impact I had upon the world. But heck, it should prove to be quite a challenge; assuming anybody will bother. Not today, not yet, not in this moment. For at this very moment, I am here and slowly stirring a bucket of warm water. Watch out you don’t get wet.
This is my moment and how I choose to live it.