Ok so last week things came to a head with my family, for the past 3 years or so I've been having weekly sessions with a couple of psychologists trying to unravel certain neuroses and generally improve my mental health. Over this time its become clear that there are certain family enmeshment issues that I won't go into and this led to a heated exchange of emails between me and my family concerning a reduced amount of contact and their concern for my well being. In this instance I've been unable to maintain a weekly check in to make sure I'm all right, which might to some seem a little unusual, but prior to being in Alaska it was the Norm.
Anyway so, one of the things that made this a little difficult to perform is that my Mom was diagnosed with cancer at the end of last year, had surgery, scanned seemed clear, and currently is undergoing additional testing since something is not 100%. As yet it's undecided as to whether the cancer has returned, or not. Thus having that email exchange may seem a little uncaring or dismissive of her condition. This is not the case; indeed as I mentioned my psychologists, having this exchange would likely cause them to do the Snoopy happy dance, although I'm sure that even they would think that the timing could have been better.
So what has this to do with life, and death I hear you ask?
Well it's this, since I have a family member undergoing treatment for cancer, which I think currently is considered by many people as a terminal condition, I'm sure many people are wondering why would I have a heated exchange with someone in this situation? Well it's this. In some moments of enlightenment both recently and over the past months I realized something quite profound...
I can guarantee that (barring an amazing medical breakthrough) in 100 years everyone who is reading this blog will be dead.
There I said it, we're all dead men walking, it's just a matter of time, life is a terminal disease. Now that applies to both those who skydive, smoke 3 packs a day and drink a fifth of vodka a night between mainlining heroin, eating large quantities of red meat, bacon and eggs, and pure lard, and those that run 10 miles a day, eat only self grown organic vegetables picked minutes before eating, and purified water with accurately added additional essential minerals to the microgram, and everyone in between.
This seems like a very nihilistic view on life, however I'm surprisingly liberated by it (since it is in some part one of the reasons we decided to do what we're doing). You see we all have various processes happening right now in our anatomies that will lead to our demise, it might be today, tomorrow, next week, next month, next year, 10 or more years from now, but those processes will catch up with us, and that'll be the end. Now, my Mom's process, is being tracked and treated as well as can be right now, and it's a mostly known quantity, however everyone else (unless they're in a similar situation) is just bumping along until something goes wrong, and that could be it, and it could be in the next few seconds, we're all rolling the probability dice all of the time. Oh and by the way this completely ignores any kind of accidents.
So the big question is why isn't this nihilistic? Well it's simple, why the hell are we all so miserable when we only have a short window of time on the planet? Why are we all so scared of it coming to an end before we're ready? I don't know about you, but I don't think I'll ever be "ready"; however, what I can do, and am doing, is realizing that by doing the things that I want to do, over the things I think others expect me to do (others being family, friends, co-workers, the government, the medical profession, financial institutions, etc. etc. etc.) I'll be a lot happier and I'm currently acting on these realizations and guess what, I am a lot happier! You know when my lightbulb finally burns out, I may not be ready, but I won't be regretting not taking that vacation in Cancun this year with my family because work got in the way, or thinking that if I only had a couple of more days/weeks/years then I could "sort everything out I needed to". Do any of you in any way relate to that potential regret? If so, maybe you want to think about that.
So as I have an audience here, lets do a little thought experiment. Right now this moment are you doing something that if it was the last thing you did, would you be happy that it was your last deed? What about the rest of your daily life, and life in general, would you be content that you'd done the right things, let the right people know the right things, feel content that everyone who your life had come into contact with had taken away something that you wanted them to take away (yes even that idiot that you punched in the face in high school)? If the answer to these questions is anything but a resounding yes, then maybe you'd like to at least begin to look at ways to make that more likely in the near future. Have you done something to make yourself happy today? If not what can you do tomorrow, and I'm thinking reasonable things, I don't think that Hugh Heffner is going to give you a spontaneous call to come visit the playboy mansion, but even if he did, think on whether you'd accept depending on your circumstances. For instance 2 or 3 years ago PlicketyCat bought me some kites, since I'd talk about flying a kite on a windy day, I haven't flown them yet, maybe I should try to get them to fly on the next windy day, I know that it would make me happy to try, and likely make her happy that I tried and that the money she spent, the thought and the effort wasn't wasted, double win.
Anyway, time to go for today, back to playing solitaire, which while not my favorite thing to do (I play very badly) it gives me time to think on things while I completely space that red 5 on the black 6. This could turn out to be a successful survival trait though, if I ever get lost in the bush, since you know that someone is going to pop-up and tell me to put that red 5 on the black 6, I can then ask them for directions.
Since I wrote this, yesterday Celine, our Calico kitty needed to be put to sleep, because of an aortal clot, we had her at the vet on Monday in Fairbanks after she was displaying symptoms of a stroke (which she'd had because of the clot). We called the vet yesterday morning, and the vet recommended to us that she be put down, the vet we saw on Monday was a locum (the practice owner was out hunting) had he seen her then he'd have recommended this on Monday since apparently this is not uncommon in cats, but pure strokes are, although he did tell us that she likely wasn't in pain. Unfortunately since we are about 150 miles away, we had to do it, which was extremely distressing.
However although for us this was upsetting, considering her in this it was the best thing, she'd lost control of her hind legs and bladder, and was confused, I'm not convinced she was hearing correctly or seeing well (she was unresponsive to most sounds and was scanning when being petted). Thinking about from meeting her back in WA (she was my wife's cat before we were married), the trip through Canada, and the first weeks here, she had a very good life with lots of laying in laps, being petted, sitting in sunbeams, watching kitty TV (looking out of the window), giving me or Plickety the sleepy vibe (where she'd send us to sleep, I think it was her cunning plan to take over the world, now if only she'd had opposable thumbs), trying to lick any Bengay, Deep Heat, Biofreeze or similar ointment off you when you needed it, looking stoned and salivating all of the time, and polishing her pads on various interesting surfaces. I kind of taught her to talk (she was a nearly silent cat before I arrived, unlike her brother Odin who used to give reports when you came home), then wished I hadn't since she'd wake me up at 6:00am whether I liked it or not to be fed. She didn't play much, but did love lying in shoeboxes even when she was much too big for the box. It's really sad to see her go, especially as Plickety has said many times when I met her cats for the first time if they didn't like me I was gone, fortunately for me they did, both Odin (who died in October last year and was the picky one) and Celine did like me so in no small part did these two play a huge role in my life. I'll miss her, as I still miss Odin, and other previous pets, but somehow I feel both Odin and Celine were very special little critters.
So to tie this back in to the original posting, sad though I am, the only regret I have about our little Calico is that she never got to live on our land, where I know she'd have loved the surroundings (and upgraded kitty TV), but not the current accomodations, she knew she was loved, and showed she loved by her actions. So my regret is for something that was out of my control, while I was thinking about her yesterday there was a bunch of "if onlies" for a while (if only we hadn't stressed her with the move, or the drive or...) until I remembered someone very wise once said to me that Home is a person not a place, Celine's Home was Plickety, and then Plickety and me, so while we moved location she was still home.