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For the Now

The past two weeks have been tough.  It seems we can’t go an entire month without being reminded that life is fragile.  My hometown has suffered a couple of very difficult blows over the past fortnight and it seems like every other day I’m reminded of my own mortality.  Last week a young man, just getting his life back together after a brief run with a drug problem, perished in an accident at his work and left my little Appalachian community reeling.  Now, this morning I get news that a guy I grew up with has a very fast moving form of Leukemia.  He’s in his mid 30s, like me, and at serious risk of loosing his life, leaving behind a new family.  As always, we’re powerless to help.  All we can do is wait and hope against hope for a miracle that may or may not come.

I’ve been wrestling lately with the choices I’ve made and how they could have drastically changed my life.  It’s pretty gut wrenching when you think about it.  Every day we make choices that, in turn, map out the course of the rest of our days.  If I decide to go to, say, Best Buy at lunch today, there’s a chance I can be killed in a car accident or meet the woman of my dreams in the DVD department over a brief conversation about how much the Blu Ray version of Inglorious Basterds wasn’t up to par.  You never know.  Not that any decision the aforementioned gentlemen made led to their demise or current health problems, but it still weighs on my mind.

The best pop culture reference I can think of that accurately illustrates this is the speech that Denis Leary made in the Directors Cut of Natural Born Killers.  For those of you who haven’t seen it, it’s pretty awesome.  Not only is Denis Leary’s speech good, but also Ashley Judd was in a very graphic, very emotional courtroom scene that didn’t make the theatrical version… but I digress.  Here’s what Denis Leary said in the film.

“Do you want to know who I really blame? The Pittsburgh Pirates because in 1947, Major League Baseball scouted a hot young pitching prospect named Fidel Castro. Hot outta Havana High, he had big speed and a nasty curveball but at the last minute, the teams all rescinded their offers. Just think about that. If Fidel had been drafted, huh huh? No Bay of Pigs, no Kennedy assassination, no cover-up, no Vietnam, no Nixon, no Ford, no bell-bottoms, no Brady Bunch, no earthshoes, no Reagan, no crack. No, we’d all be eating hotdogs and apple-pie and smoking big fat Cuban cigars.”

It ain’t poetic but it gets the point across.  The little things we do every day can have a very big effect on not only our lives, but the lives of those we love and perfect strangers alike.  I know I will eventually leave this world.  I’ll die like you will.  What makes us stand apart is how we choose to die and how we choose to live.  I, from this point on, choose a life of careful introspection and honesty.  I can think of several choices that I have made over the course of my 36 years of life on this rock that have led me to where I am now.  Good or bad, I am the man I am because of each of these things.  The list is quite extensive.  I’ve been writing it for nigh on 3 months now.  It’s about 6 pages long.  What if I hadn’t quit piano lessons?  What if I never went to UC?  What if I had met her for lunch?  What if I had never moved to Los Angeles?  Things would be very, very different.

Should we continue to harp on the decisions we’ve made or simply live with them?  There is a therapeutic quality in re-assessing our  choices but it can’t be very healthy to dwell on them.  I guess what I’m trying to say is life is too short and important to live in the past.  Be thankful for what you have now, because who knows what you’ll do to screw it up tomorrow.  And get well Bruce…

Categories: Uncategorized
  1. April 25, 2010 at 1:30 am

    There you go getting me motivated again. Great post!

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