Sunday, November 29, 2009

A bone of contention

Hmm. I have no idea where Tiger Woods was headed at 2:00 in the morning either. I can only surmise, must be murder getting a good tee time on those Florida courses.

(Psst, David? Focus?) Oh yeah! This is Daisy, with the bone she just found. Daisy is seven; the bone, about a million years older. I just love the little girl's expression. On first glance she looks only exuberant, but careful study reveals a hint of canine bemusement. Something like...

"Yeah, I get it. I'm a dog this is a bone, I'm supposed to be happy to have it. And I am happy, really I am. Could somebody tell me what to do with the thing?"

I suppose at times, many humans have reason to regard our lives with the same bemusement. Well? A secular approach to the question of what to do with our lives would be to examine what others did with their lives. Best way to consider what others did with their lives, and draw helpful lessons? Last words.

Naw, no kidding. When people are about to pass but don't know it, they often say things that encapsulate their entire approach to the mortality about to be relinquished. I don't know why it works like that. What do you think I am, Sockrates?
I just know it works like that sometimes...

Lots of valuable lessons in how to live one's life, right there in people's final words.

Dylan Thomas: "I've had eighteen straight whiskies, and I think that's a record."
From this we learn, set high goals for yourself and strive to exceed them.

Lou Costello: "That was the best ice cream soda I ever tasted." The lesson there is always be careful to savor and appreciate every honest pleasure.

P.T. Barnum: "What were the receipts today at Madison Square Garden?" OK, I confess a deep abiding affection for Phineas. He faithfully lived his life by a single guiding principle; humans are really really dumb. But his final words offer a lesson. Stay true to your principles, but be willing to shuffle your priorities.

General John Sedgwick: "They couldn't hit an elephant at this distance." What a noble final statement! What may the living take from it? Well, plenty. In every human life, circumstances will conspire to place you upon a hinge of history. That hinges come in different sizes is likely a conceit of our limited vision. When you stand upon a hinge of history, be brave. Be brave enough to accept the guys on the other side might not be aiming at elephants today.

Also though, I must admit? A few people who knew darn well they were about to kick the bucket have also said interesting things...

Thomas J. Grasso: "I did NOT get the Spaghetti-O's I requested. I got spaghetti. I want the press to know this." Probably the most useful thing the convicted murderer ever said. From that we can learn, sometimes you might think something is really important. Other folks, not so much maybe.

Sir Walter Ralegh: Yeah, I speeled his name correctly. His last words were impromptu actually. Axeman was rather embarrassed about the gig. Ralegh comforted him saying, "If the heart be right, what matter how the head lieth?" Spoken like a man of the personal courage Ralegh always demonstrated. That's a good life lesson there too. We're all gonna lose in this life. Little battles along the way, and there's a metaphorical axeman in everybody's future. Fight hard but have the wits to discern when you've lost, and be gracious about it.

Being alive is finding a bone and not knowing exactly what to do with it. Our spirt lives forever, while our flesh lives always in the moment. Example? My sources say this exact conversation took place after Tiger Woods' car accident...

"Where am I?"
"It's OK baby. You had a wreck, the Ambulance is on the way darling."
"What happened?"
"You had a wreck. I busted the back window with a golf club and dragged you out."
"What club did you use?"
"Nine iron."
"I'd have used a putter for that shot."

Just how we humans are, really really dumb.

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