If you’ve ever seen Lemmings jumping off a cliff, one after the other, then you have glimpsed my darker thoughts about life and death. How many of use just go through life as if we are just here to be the next to jump? And every time one of the older generation ‘falls off’, I think about how my generation will be the next to ‘jump’.
Everybody dies. It’s how we live that matters. I tell myself this as I plod to the kitchen, to pour that same cup of water into the same coffee maker like an automated…lemming. I plop the Kuerig pod into the machine, reminding myself that I am adding to the landfill again. I have a delicious, steamy cup of coffee in hand in no time, but I don’t spend too much time to savor it slowly, because I have already plopped down in that same chair and automatically jumped onto Facebook. As usual, I get to see the latest political rants, dumb jokes, and some idiot lighting a firecracker under his friend’s ass, and then laughing when that friend nearly has a heart attack. I sigh. I click over to my 12,978 unread email list. “Online DealKing”, “Publisher’s Clearing House- respond NOW!”, “Indeed Job Alerts”, top the list. Again I sigh. Same shit, different day. It’s Friday. So what? I am at home. I don’t care and can barely keep track of which day of the week it is anyway.
I turn on the television. Three days from the presidential election between two of the biggest boobs in history. Both of them suck in different and yet profound ways. The fluffy kitty is snuggling next to me. At least she’s real. Genuine. I am grateful for her. I reflect on gratitude, and my attitude starts to shift. The sunlight is soft and inviting outside my window,and the autumn leaves are lovely with their dappled hues, caressed by the breeze- falling, another lifetime ending. Leaf-lemmings…
And yet, we don’t really mourn the leaves, nor the grass that dies when it’s season ends. And in the large scheme of things, even though one leaf, one blade of grass, is a miracle unto itself, we don’t mourn, because we know that in the Spring, more leaves, more grass will come. That’s not enough for people, though. We cannot replace a loved-one with someone else. That one person is unique, priceless, treasured. We are left with memories, and we hope for a future of spiritual unity in Heaven. But there’s something else. Our mothers and fathers leave a part of themselves in us, our children, and their children. More than memories, more than the DNA that gave our kids that red hair, more than photographs. They leave a legacy. It might be good, it might be awful, but each new generation has its own chance, its own choices to make.
Nature and nurture may have determined I will die as some sort of addict. Sure, I can choose to wallow in lemming mentality. I can follow the path of my father, a long-deceased alcoholic. I could follow the path of my mother, and could still be smoking cigarettes, never to quit until they make the last years of my life a living hell. I could go numbly through life, never allowing myself to appreciate the moment- the quiet time with a cup of joe, the cuddly soft cat on my lap giving and wanting affection, the golden sunshine casting beams and shadows through the house. I can also remember the beautiful people that my parents were, despite- and through- and beyond their addictions. Just like I am beautiful- and life is- despite, and through, and beyond our darkness.
It’s all about focus.