(though not a gigolo), life goes on – without me”. One of Satchmo’s great songs, a gentle reminder of our temporality and the fact that the world will get along just fine without us. The cemetery, said the wag, is full of indispensable people.
Some people live lives that enhance the lives of others to the point that they seem unreplaceable. Pope John Paul 2’s, the Franciscan of Bourges’, Martin Luther King’s and those of some unknowns among your friends and mine were also like that. We ourselves may not be making major contributions to science, literature, the arts and the well-being of our fellow-man to the point that anyone would see us as indispensable, but one way or another some of us have made and do make a difference. At least as parents. Our children depended for years entirely and exclusively on us, and we had an enormous effect on their lives and what they have become. They, like the rest of the race, will soon have to get along, as best they can, without us. Mine have been doing that in fact for years. If we succeeded as parents, we made them independent, autonomous and equipped to make the most of their lives before others discover that life goes on without them.
So what is the point of it all ? I used to think it was to prepare us for, and to prove ourselves worthy of, a blessed, eternal, happy after-life. Now I know that that construct is groundless, and that our short, finite life has the meaning we give it. If we’ve more or less wasted it, there’s still time to make up, literally, for lost time. But that time is running out (no news to people like me in their eighties !). Many of us decide to get the most out of the time we have left. I would like to be among those who decide to give as well as to get as much as they can – before life goes on, without us. “Carpe diem” need not necessarily mean a selfish senescence.
P.S. : You have just read Post No. 600. Hitler promised that the Third Reich would last 1000 years. I’m making no promises about 1000 posts. What on earth, you’re wondering, could he come up with to put in another 400 posts ? No worries ! I’ll let you know when I feel I have nothing more to say – or when the world wakes up to its blindfaithblindfolly. But pretty soon you, and the world, will just have to get along without me.