Tuesday, May 8, 2018


May 7, 2018

There is no end to this conversation. Rather, I hasten to correct myself: there is an end to it, obviously, and a very specific one at that, with only the time and date to be determined.
I think it true to say that I have no fear of death; what I fear is what might come before—the pain, the loss of mental faculties and the physical incontinence, the need to be taken care of, the indignity. My great wish is by then to have found the grace to be able to weather all these travails, if called upon to do so, with a measure of serenity; to not be a burden to others; to not give in to anger or fear; to not cling to life in stubborn desperation; but rather to be present to this ultimate human experience with equanimity, curiosity and tolerance. Buddhists believe the death of the body to be a decisive moment in the accomplishment of karma: the way a person dies will determine the nature of their incarnation. As I wrote earlier, I am not able to commit myself to this article of faith. But no matter: when all is said and done, a good death is the kind of death that I aspire to.
I trust that my conversation will continue, then, if I am fortunate enough to be granted the blessing of a rational and inquiring mind right up until the moment when the time arrives for me to cross the threshold at the end of life. That my essay comes to an end today, and on this page, is purely arbitrary and provisional. Otherwise, as they say, I could go on and on…


See…? It’s hard to stop. I have an update on a couple of my earlier thoughts.
In section I—you could hardly call them chapters, right?—I mentioned my political blog, “The Rohrabacher Letters,” and my growing feeling that I was not achieving very much in writing them. I justified my persistence in writing the letters as a way to maintain my own consciousness about what’s happening in our country and the world, and to satisfy the sense of civic responsibility that has accompanied me throughout my adult life.
It was only a few days later that I decided to put an end to “The Rohrabacher Letters”. The decision had been brewing inwardly for some time, but the trigger was a meet and greet session with a Democratic challenger in Rohrabacher’s district, a man I felt I could whole-heartedly support. So the blog morphed instantly into a new one, “Rooting for Dr. Hans,” in which I am able to give voice to my civic duty in a more positive way. The change comes as a refreshing relief. Writing in support of, rather than against, has breathed new life into my political blogging activity and has afforded me a great sense of pleasure as I approach my morning task.
Elsewhere, I mentioned my decision to refrain from drinking alcohol. That was more than three weeks ago, and I have kept to that decision. I’m still in the process of observing the results in my health and clarity of mind. And I have nothing dramatic, to report. Despite my expectations, I have experienced no significant weight loss; if I’m to lose that excess weight I’m carrying around, I’ll have to find another way. I feel perhaps a shade less sluggish when I wake up in the morning, but again, the change is not as dramatic as I’d hoped. The mind is, perhaps, a little sharper… Quite apart from all that, however, there is the satisfaction in simply having abided by my decision. It has not been as hard as I expected. And even so, if that’s all there is to show for it, to have maintained integrity with myself in this way is no small thing.

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