May 29, 2019
by Doug “Uncola” Lynn:
“If we focus on fighting death, we can only lose…
If we focus on living life, we can only win.”
For many years, I’ve held on to the feeling of invincibility I’ve known all of my life. Like the sense one has before a test when they just know they have a better-than-average chance of coming up aces; of being prepared to rise above the challenge and feeling lucky at the same time. Even when I went through a bout of depression and paralysis several years ago – it was, in part, because I was angry that the inevitable shit-show was taking too long get started and the waiting to die was killing me.
But now, this is the first year where I no longer feel invincible. For whatever reason, it seems like a turning point. Or, rather, the beginning of the descent down the other side of the mountain. I don’t sleep as soundly as I have in the past and, in the mornings, my old injuries yield more aches and pains. My endurance is less, my hands can’t grip as tight as before, and my range of physical movement is increasingly restricted; or at least more than it once was. Additionally, my eyesight is diminished as are my senses of hearing and smell.
I’m older now and, of course, none of the above was a surprise as I’ve been watching them transpire for some time. It’s just now, this year, these have become absolutely undeniable on a daily basis and I’m okay with that because seasons change. That’s all. Even so, we can fight to delay the inevitable by eating the right foods, drinking lots of water (I drink distilled), and getting plenty of sunshine, fresh air, and exercise. Yet time waits on no one and our bodies wind down like clocks.
Inevitability is as inevitability does.
Over a rainy Memorial Day weekend, I watched a film on Netflix called “American Honey”. It was sort of an arthouse flick starring Shia LaBeouf and some unknown young actress in her first role. They traveled from town to town with a crew of tattooed and pierced young magazine salespeople while drinking lots of booze, smoking weed, and having sex. In a way, it was an allegory of youth’s flame lighting up the random universe amidst making money and love. And isn’t that pretty much the story our lives?
What struck me about the film was the interwoven beauty and decay; and danger. Heartwarming human connections amidst cultural degradation. Stunning sunrises and sunsets over insects, filth, sweat, and muddy water. Is that not the very essence of life? Good and bad in varying measures and defined at any given time by what we sense.
Take, for example, the politics of our time. Corruption and lies in the darkest of swamps versus courage and truth shining like campfires on the surrounding horizons.
For no apparent reason, I was thinking today of the author, intellectual, and conservative icon William F. Buckley Jr. Here was a guy who experienced the American dream. He lived large within a charmed life. Receiving an Ivy League education during the height of American prosperity and influence: A former army officer, sail-boating enthusiast, spy novelist, and 1991 recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom. I recall Rush Limbaugh once telling a story how his soda was spiked by Buckley before a television interview and, at the time, found myself smiling while I was driving as the tale was told.
I also saw an interview of Buckley in his later years, telling the interviewer that he had grown “weary of life” and that he welcomed death. I found that peculiar at the time, coming from one who was so blessed, had lived so large, and who had obtained such legacies and lasting influence.
It made me ask the question: “What’s the point?”
Perhaps it is this: We cannot know light without darkness, or experience the comforting warmth of the hearth without a chill in the air. Nor can we fully appreciate day without night, each season without the other seasons, or decency without corruption. What is life without death, joy without suffering, living without dying?
Our lives are defined by what we think we see and whether or not the perceived proverbial glass is half empty or half full. It depends upon where we are looking. And, perhaps, upon how full we are ourselves. There is a fullness of gratitude that derives from humility and an inner emptiness from pride. Pride wants to capture life, but life cannot be caught. Instead, our experience flows through us like oxygen; and over us as rain.
Beauty is akin to a butterfly and when trapped it wilts like a plucked flower in the sun. Neither can it be made to subdue. A passive observer must consciousness be to know the breeze. And the quieter we become, the more we see. The winds of fear may be blowing through your lives and filling your eyes with dust. Perhaps we are riding the crest of waves, out of control, ‘til our very foundations are shaken in the core.
Don’t blink or you’ll miss it – the wind in our eyes.