The title slipped out. I wrote about fear, fear of dying recently. Not easy to accept that it’s coming for me as it does for all. Can’t hide, that’s for sure. It’s nice getting older, sometimes thinking I’m a bit more mellow than I was 30, 40, or 50 years ago. Not so sure though. Blissfully ignorant I think they call it.
Made jokes back then. Every time my mom called, she was a little younger than I am now and asked if I remembered “so and so,” I knew what was coming. “Well, she died.” Yup. We’re all getting older. Just last week a good friend passed. We were expecting it. They never found her leukemia until it was too late for chemo. And before we could drive north to visit – snow storm intervened – she was dead. Hurts. We saw her the weeks before, but it still hurts. Even now.
Reminds me to reach out more and hope that others reach out to me in the same way. It’s a bummer being alone and it’s not necessary. This divisive society ain’t helping none! Wars, racial cleansings, bigotry, hate – all that stuff only makes matters worse. See a red-painted pot and be told not to touch it – it’s hot and you’ll burn yourself, so you’ll flinch from others that aren’t like the image you see in the mirror – that makes you alone. Takes away a hand that could help.
You become isolated and start to believe that there’s only you and death’s not going to have any problem finding you – the last man standing.
Nah. That’s not true. You/we are not alone. We’re all in it together. Just have to take down the barriers erected by “me-ing” and “my-ing” everything. It’s the “Me First,” the “My thing” that’s killing us.
I like to swim laps and don’t mind sharing a lane. Rarely is there any problem. But there are times the pool is crowded and I’m thinking “hey – they’re not really working out. Get out of my way. I have to swim some mean laps, my laps.” Well, I make myself rethink that. Anyone can cramp. I could double over and go down and the only one who sees me is this wimp in the next lane, totally out of shape, splashing along going as much backward as forward. The guy reaches over, grabs me by my hand, and pulls me over to the side – both of us gasping. See, together we beat death. Alone, I’m done for.
I try to keep that in mind while walking the dog at night. I have an aneurysm. Could blow at any time. But it’s a stranger that can call 911 and get me to the hospital in time. Not me alone. I don’t have a cell phone. Once again, death gets the door slammed in its face.
Not simple, death still is scary but I’m training and rethinking myself to understand that it’s not something that I have to face alone. It’s natural to want to run without looking back, to isolate oneself physically and emotionally. But I know that’s not helpful.
So I work on it. Not all the time but enough to take comfort. Think sometimes about how to call my “friendly troops” to my side; get us all marching together. Thinking about smiles and helping hands – a good defense and a better offense. Getting out there proactively and building up credits committing random acts of kindness, smiles, thank you’s, please may I. Basics like. Basic training. Now that I’ve said basic training – it sounds right. All over the world people seem to have forgotten, that open kind of love that welcomes the other in.
Maybe it’s time we all go back to basic training, and practice doing the right thing, too busy carrying out acts of loving kindness to even worry about death.
It’s a start.
Ken was a Professor of Mathematics, a ceramicist, a welder, and an IBMer until downsized in 2000. He taught yoga until COVID-19 decided otherwise. He continues writing, living with his wife and beagle in Shorewood, Wisconsin. He enjoys chamber music and mysteries. He’s a homebrewer and runs whitewater rivers. Ken is a writer and his literary works can be found at https://www.kmkbooks.com/
He welcomes feedback on his articles and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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