Monday, August 6, 2012

I Never Expected To Live This Long

As Eubie Blake, who died at age 96 (not age 100 as he claimed), said, "If I'd known I was going to live this long, I would have taken better care of myself." Well, maybe. I wouldn't have passed up that wild youth for any amount of longevity. Seriously, when I was 30, if you'd asked me how long I expected to live, I would have truthfully answered that I thought I would flame out around 50. Happily (or so I think today; ask me tomorrow), I did not.

I've seen a lot of avoidable loss in my life, and have experienced relatively little of it myself. But when I look around, I cannot honestly say the world is improved over its state in my youth. More people are being killed, and for worse reasons, than ever before. More people are incarcerated in America beyond the reach of the law, for crimes that are essentially thoughtcrimes. And finally, humanity is nailing its own coffin shut by refusing even to consider diminishing our use of fossil fuels. Of course, we could still end it all in the way we all thought likely 50 years ago, a massive nuclear war; the same technology that landed a rover on Mars could place a bomb in a major city. We have plenty of ways to inflict misery, and we're developing more of them every day.

So what keeps me going, in the face of those realizations? Stella, the cats, my other friends, and... very low on the list... political activism, which no longer works as well as it did in the days before all politicians, from all parties, were bought and paid for under the terms of Citizens United. Maybe I'll live to see the end of the empire, but I can't say I like the view of the future beyond it.


  1. ...
    Old man pushing seventy,
    In truth he acts like a little boy,
    Whooping with delight when he spies some mountain fruits,
    Laughing with joy, tagging after village mummers;
    With the others having fun stacking tiles to make a pagoda,
    Standing alone staring at his image in the jardinière pool.
    Tucked under his arm, a battered book to read,
    Just like the time he first set out to school. ..

    I assume it is your birthday!

    Happy Birthday!

  2. Happy birthday, Steve.

    Only a year until Medicare, if they don't screw things up.

  3. Thanks, all, for the good wishes. Enfant, thanks especially for the poem! Mother Google tells me that it's by the 12th-century Chinese poet Lu Yu; somehow I believe he must have been such a youthful oldster himself.

  4. In a more somber vein, I am fond of Dylan Thomas's Do not go gentle into that good night. Be sure to listen to the audio track.

  5. Yes, indeed!
    I searched my self a lot!
    I send you also a virtual Vassily Kandinsky cake!

  6. One of my very favorites, Enfant... thank you!



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