An AP item in today's Boston Globe reveals that "a Connecticut couple completed their quest to visit every state in the country before they were killed crossing a road in Ohio." They had just finished the last leg of their 50-state quest, when they were struck by a minivan in Liberty Township. The driver has not been charged. The accident remains under investigation. The victims were 73 and 71 years of age.
I was sprightly walking merrily along when I was pulled back as if a stop sign had come out of nowhere to smack me in the face. Questions ran through my mind, but the bottom line was to ask "why." No answer satisfies. I am a spiritual person, but unable to bring in a Deity to provide an explanation. Two people, having just accomplished a retirement endeavor, are removed from life as a what? As a crashing tribute to their magnificent feat? An endorsement of the notion that each of us has a pre-designated time limit which determines the length of our earthly existence? Why do bad things happen to good people? Maybe, we are not part of any grand scheme, and things, good and bad, occur by happenstance. The "when" and "why" of it is not within our control. Maybe the concept of "fate" should be banned, on the ground that it is inconsistent with the idea that our life is what we make it to be. Maybe God creates with a clean slate, and directs the inhabitant to make it as good, in the spiritual sense, as possible, at which time the Creator wishes good luck and walks away. The individual is blessed with the freedom, or cursed with the responsibility, of dealing with the inevitability of bad things. Is it unreasonable to expect that God has His eye on each and every one of us, at the same time, all the time?
Did not Elie Wiesel abandon his belief in God after surviving the Holocaust?
Perhaps we shouldn't even try to wrestle with this phenomenon. Maybe you either accept or you don't. In the absence of concrete evidence, you chose to believe, or you don't. Evolution or somebody up there. If your decision brings you serenity and the ability to live a good life, then you've found what's right for you. Whenever a crisis turns out o.k., why do I find myself saying, "Thank God?"
A spontaneous reflex or an acknowledgement?
And, count how many times I've used the words "maybe" and "perhaps". And the number of intended statements which end in question marks. The elusiveness of certainty.
Many years ago, an uncle, a very successful doctor, hosted an elegant dinner party at his magnificent home. He was very upbeat in manner, but he didn't look well. At all.
When we were having drinks, he beckoned me to where he was standing alone, for the moment.
He put his hand on my arm and said, seemingly out of context of everything,"Gerry, get the most out of every day of your life. Live it to the fullest." More commandment than advice.
I stared at him. Up close, he was skin and bones. I said nothing, but never forgot. His eyes were so penetrating.
One month later, he succumbed to cancer.
I'm taking his advice. No reckless wild side, but no energy wasted by past regrets, either. We're more than plants.
Use any name you want for him/her/it. There's a higher force as the architect here, and I'll be prepared for two-way communication any time. All the time. I'll grab at happiness whenever it's reachable. Just don't hurt other people. Forget the words "if only." Be a good person and surround yourself with the same.
Apologies for being so heavy. Blame the newspaper.