18 February 2013

Two Years

For those of us in the prime of life, death is naught but a frightening idea; it's something ominous and dark, but intangible and incomprehensible. With the likelihood of decades left to be lived, the end of the mortal coil is something that can we can push off to the end of our "To Do" lists. Life has far too many deadlines to fret over.

Then again, young people die all the time.

Car crashes.
Alcohol.
Illness.
Poor choices.

Death is ever-present, yet we can never really be sure if we have decades or days.

But what if we did know?

What if life came installed with a personal countdown that ticked away our remaining moments here on earth? What if our every action or inaction affected the rate of that countdown? I pick up the habit of running every day, my clock slows down. I start smoking, the clock speeds up.

What to do then?

What if we were in the same position Morrie Swartz was in? The countdown to death is set for two years, and it starts right now.

* * * * *
Spring 2013
  • Finalize my life insurance plan (let's face it: it's best to have your ducks in a row for things like this).
  • Finish my last semester of teaching. 
  • See every concert, show, and awards ceremony and cheer on the excellence at WHS.
  • Finish all home projects.
Summer 2013
  • Travel cross-country with my wife, Ashley.
  • Visit family across the state.
  • Indulge in every summer activity under the sun.
Fall/Winter 2013
Sping 2014
  • Start writing a book.
  • Enjoy the little things.
  • Start a vegetable garden.
  • Learn to play the cello.
Summer 2014
  • Expose the little Tobey to Nebraska's famous Summer Thunderstorms and Sunsets.
  • Listen to music.
  • Drink lemonade and tea every night.
Fall & Winter 2014
* * * * *

When Death Comes – A Poem by Mary Oliver

When death comes
like the hungry bear in autumn
when death comes and takes all the bright coins from his purse

to buy me, and snaps his purse shut;
when death comes
like the measle-pox;

when death comes
like an iceberg between the shoulder blades,

I want to step through the door full of curiosity, wondering;
what is it going to be like, that cottage of darkness?

And therefore I look upon everything
as a brotherhood and a sisterhood,
and I look upon time as no more than an idea,
and I consider eternity as another possibility,

and I think of each life as a flower, as common
as a field daisy, and as singular,

and each name a comfortable music in the mouth
tending as all music does, toward silence,

and each body a lion of courage, and something
precious to the earth.

When it’s over, I want to say: all my life
I was a bride married to amazement.
I was a bridegroom, taking the world into my arms.

When it’s over, I don’t want to wonder
if I have made of my life something particular, and real.
I don’t want to find myself sighing and frightened
or full of argument.

I don’t want to end up simply having visited this world.

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