The future ain't what it used to be.

Yogi Berra
MAY 1, 2011 12:48AM


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 Final without soldier

Alan Seeger, an American poet born in 1888 died in the First World War in 1916 fighting for France as a member of the Foreign Legion. His brother was the father of Pete Seeger, the American folk singer. Before he died he wrote a memorable poem which, ironically, was a favorite of President John Kennedy.


I have a Rendezvous with Death
by Alan Seeger

I have a rendezvous with Death 
At some disputed barricade, 
When Spring comes back with rustling shade 
And apple-blossoms fill the air 
I have a rendezvous with Death 
When Spring brings back blue days and fair. 

It may be he shall take my hand 
And lead me into his dark land 
And close my eyes and quench my breath 
It may be I shall pass him still. 
I have a rendezvous with Death 
On some scarred slope of battered hill, 
When Spring comes round again this year 
And the first meadow-flowers appear. 

God knows 'twere better to be deep 
Pillowed in silk and scented down, 
Where Love throbs out in blissful sleep, 
Pulse nigh to pulse, and breath to breath, 
Where hushed awakenings are dear... 
But I've a rendezvous with Death 
At midnight in some flaming town, 
When Spring trips north again this year, 
And I to my pledged word am true, 
I shall not fail that rendezvous. 

 I first heard the poem in grammar school and, although Seeger’s poetry is not rated very highly, it impressed me very deeply for its strange overtones of impending doom and yet retaining a grotesque association with a lover’s tryst.


Life is, or at least gives the adventurous appearance of being, a random serendipitous exploration of this delightful and threatening and promising bundle of dimensions that configured us to deal with at least some of its aspects. Because we are designed to travel within it facing backwards there are few events that can be predicted absolutely. Death is one of them and the realization at the age of four or five that I had of its inevitability was a chilling shock that reoccurred periodically through my life when the thought popped up again. Initially I wondered how people could remain sane with this end firmly lurking just over the horizon.


A few years beyond that first awakening I became familiar with the various naive fantasies each culture nurtures to anesthetize the horror but, unfortunately for me, the reality of final and absolute dissolution never could be banished. Most of the theological attempts to calm that disturbing actuality, while probably originating in creative minds with genuine empathy for fellow humans, has been so thoroughly corrupted by avaricious institutions eagerly massaging those fears for monetary gain as to make the whole scene appallingly unreal and rather repulsive. Most of the religious concepts of the nature and function and end point of life are rather ancient, conceived in societies far less sophisticated, less complicated and immensely less knowledgeable than our own and their after death projections are consequently exceedingly simple minded and vague and seem to me to be totally unrewarding..


Nevertheless there is a certain consistency in their structures in comparing life to some sort of game wherein the living players must conform to a set of rules compiled by a rather erratic minded short tempered diety and win and lose points on the basis of that conformity. At life’s end the Ultimate Scorekeeper will tally up the results and declare winners and losers with appropriate rewards and punishments. After that, it seems, there is a total stasis in action and the qualities of the individuals remain fixed for all further time. Game over! What a bore!


As someone approaching an end game condition my mind has meandered through somewhat related speculations brought up to date. It is not hard to imagine that the virtual reality now extant throughout computer games can be vastly developed in the manner of the holodeck portrayed in the Star Trek series so one does not merely view a devised universe but actually seems to exist within it with resident memory altered, much as in normal dreaming, to assume not only current reality but substantial devised memories implanted to validate it. In that way, what we experience as “death” is merely a process of waking up to the real reality and being highly amused at the various experiences we considered to be “real”. What we wake up as, of course, could very well be something radically different than human. There are multitudes of strange life forms with odd physiologies and environments perusable in current science fiction which could fit the bill and even the basic forces of this universe such as gravity, electromagnetism, the strong and weak atomic forces, could merely be conventions devised by the creator of the current game in which we are immersed. Anyway, this idea seems to me to slide much more into my acceptability than the concepts of the ancient religions. I’m surprised no enterprising snake oil salesman, such as Ron Hubbard, has not managed to make the concept somehow profitable as an ongoing scam.


That rendezvous that Alan Seeger perceived for himself and which we each must meet eventually remains a persistent thought that looms closer with each successive year of existence. One becomes rather preoccupied as to when and how it will come into being. Although violence and death, along with all that emotional furniture necessary for love and reproduction, remains the mainstay of the bulk of entertainment, in general, daily life is not so chock filled with these heightened occurrences. Outside of war zones and crime scenes and calamitous disasters death appears only a few times in each of our lives. I have lost both parents, my wife, and one of my two sons. I have not been close to my other relatives and so their disappearance was rather remote. I am not a terribly social person and have had few friends who have dropped away also rather distantly. In that way, I suppose I am rather insulated compared to the average person. Each loss dislodges my personal emotional equilibrium for about ten years until the emotional pain dulls to the point where the event can be stowed in memory safely and distantly and the internal screaming stops.


But the passage of time for each of us is a unique event. As we mature the milieu of places and people which fill our world that we come to accept as forming the structure of our universe obtain a sort of solidity which we begin to believe as having some absolute permanence. I grew up in Bay Ridge in Brooklyn, NY where there were still unpaved streets, empty lots full of bits of abandoned buildings, tall trees and half wild sections adventurous kids could use for exotic imaginings. On each Armistice Day a small contingent of tottering old Civil War veterans marched down Narrows Avenue to a tiny cemetery near 70th Street where a few canted headstones marked the untended graves of some guys who died in the Revolutionary War.


What we had in common were the newspapers with Alley Oop. Benny, Smilin’ Jack, Flash Gordon, Blondie, Dick Tracy, Li’l Abner, Mandrake the Magician and many others. The radio gave us Uncle Don, the Singing Lady, Buck Rogers, Jack Armstrong, Orphan Annie, Charlie McCarthy, Jack Benny, Burns and Allen, Fred Allen and lots more. The films donated Charlie Chaplin, Mickey Mouse, Laurel and Hardy, W.C.Fields, The Marx Brothers, Eddie Cantor, Zazu Pitts, Marlene Dietrich, Jean Harlow, Bette Davis, Carol Landis, Mae West, Peter Lorre, Clarke Gable, Spencer Tracy, Humphrey Bogart, Katherine Hepburn, John, Ethel and Lionel Barrymore, William Powell, Myrna Loy, John Wayne, Errol Flynn, Charles Laughton, James Cagney and of course many, many, more. They all formed the threads that illuminated and joined the tapestry of our lives in common.


These times, events, places, prejudices, preferences, fashions, loves and hates have died and vanished just as the many people who created them have ceased to exist except as distant historical and, for me, magically nostalgic references.


I remember back in 1936 when we kids in Public School 102 were marched out to line 69th street. None of us knew why. We waited a long time and finally a kid on a bicycle delivering groceries drove up the street. We kids cheered wildly, to his embarrassment. After another long wait an open convertible drove through so we dutifully cheered Franklin Roosevelt and then were marched back to school. So much for politics.  The participants have changed but the hopes and aspirations and mechanics remain somewhat the same. And people with genuine appreciation for and understanding of the well being of the country seem to have totally disappeared replaced by the strangest collection of greedy nincompoops and outright thugs. But perhaps I have had a distorted view of politics. Will Rogers, H.L.Mencken and Mark Twain had frequently apprised the politicians of their era and the fit to the clumsy clowns now in the field, from the president on down, seems uncomfortably snug.


My early life moved through one depression and, whatever they call it these days, the current ambiance seems not much different. It has yet to dip into the deep despair of those early days with the Okies fleeing to an uncharitable California to escape the terrible dust storms but the global warming deniers and their voraciously greedy and incompetent allies in the major energy corporations are assuring that no viable preparations will be made to counter the inexorable disasters building as the globe accommodates its climates to the atmospheric changes. That plus the careless emplacement of unstable, insanely and carelessly supervised atomic reactors chomping at the bit to spatter radioactive hell throughout countrysides throughout the world make for (as the sarcastic Chinese proverb indicates) interesting times. The catastrophes of the 1930’s will seem indeed mildly pleasant in comparison to the ultimate miseries yet to come.


I have lived through fascination and vigorous times beginning when technology was fused and ignited and ready to explode into the marvels of today when the laces of instant communication and information were just preparing to be pulled tight.  The world was still immensely rich with the energy treasures downloaded from the Sun since the time of the dinosaurs, when the abundant forests of the western world had not yet been decimated totally, when the soils were still crammed with potential food for the world, when the seas teemed with life to be harvested easily and economically and when there were few enough people in the world to potentially make life fulfilling and rewarding for everybody alive on a prolonged sustainable basis, although that potential, sadly, never came to be realized.


When one is born into a world of wealth and wonder as a child it is not possible to even approach the appreciation such a world should demand. It is only after witnessing the incessant devastation a vicious careless ignorant and downright stupid species, the human vandals, could wreak on every aspect of a functioning living   glorious planet in a mere two centuries or so, that full appreciation for what has been lost is generated and suitably and deeply, regretfully, mourned.


But this sad nostalgia is out of a very human, very ephemeral viewpoint. Marvelous things have come and gone in the duration of this very small world and one’s regrets at their passing must be likened to the fascination I had with a small cardboard tube kaleidoscope I had as a three year old where each wondrous configuration of bits of colored paper, glowing shards of broken glass and strange beads and bits of brilliant red and green and blue and violet plastic vied with the most impressive stained glass windows of famous cathedrals and as I slowly turned the tube new and equally fascinating views appeared in endless procession and again quickly disappeared.


This planet has passed through several almost total extinctions of life from various causes – major volcanic eruptions, massive bombardment from meteors, violent climactic and ecological changes in the constituents of the atmosphere, and probably others not yet discovered. But life has countered all these catastrophes by retreating, regrouping, and devising novel and energetic responses that has resulted in many of the living things we see today. Doubtless these extinctions and resurrections will continue since both the destructive and the creative forces are probably endlessly flexible in their ingenuities.


All our individual lives are limited and there are very few species that persist more than a few tens of millions of years. The brief hundred or less years that the bulk of people live is minuscule indeed when looking over the periods that life wrests from the offerings of the planet. Humanity itself is a very volatile creation and the last two centuries have been sensational in nurturing and expanding the species and donating to it capabilities that seem to be violently coming out of control when the confluence of technology and the raw fierce forces of primitive acquisition and social power are exerted on the environment and human society. The current explosion of scientific knowledge and technological application seems very likely to make very radical and probably unexpected changes to human life. In the not too distant future there is the promise of fundamentally redesigning physiology and mental capacity which may provide abilities to live under extraterrestrial environments but by that make humanity into something completely unrecognizable by today’s understanding. It seems inexorable that these changes, whose implications are apparent today, will generate destructive conflicts and great misery. It is not likely I will survive to see much of that.


I owe an apology to those who have the fortitude to have remained with me to read this long meandering effort. In these last few months I have found the source of energy and creativity which fueled much of my life to have severely diminished. Many of my days have seemed terribly swift and short and burdened with a terrible sense of permanent fatigue. I sleep much too much and do far too little of the routine necessary tasks we are each required to do to merely maintain a sane existence. I have lost something like twenty pounds although my eating habits have remained stable. I have read that this signals that life is coming to an end although there are no strange pains or other physical debilitations to confirm this and doctor’s examinations have indicated no vital lacks. I have been trying to accustom myself to the concept of that final bucket kick.


But within the last week or so there seems to have been a turnaround and I feel not quite so tired and have a bit more energy. It may be that last flash of light before sunset or perhaps my body has discovered a novel way to lengthen my telomeres. I cannot say.


But I thought it worthwhile for a general review before that final rendezvous.



















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Jan, this is so poignant...I am blessed to be here for to you...xox
Jan, I'd not heard of Alan Seeger or this poem before but it is haunting. Yet where you sense impending doom, I interpret it as a man who was clear-headed enough to know what he was up against (war) yet still retained an appreciation for the beauty and sensual appeal of life. He sounds neither resigned nor frightened; in fact, for someone who was only 28 when he died, he seems to be celebrating living life in the moment. His use of the term "rendezvous" - a meeting, an appointment - tells me that he views death as something more than grim finality.

I immediately thought of Emily Dickinson's poem "Because I Could Not Stop For Death" which I've always loved. I like the way she treats leaving this world as a leisurely carriage ride with a gentleman and immortality as traveling companions.

You have certainly experienced some tough emotional blows in your life; those things combined with not feeling your best physically, nostalgia for better times and a world populated with "the strangest collection of greedy nincompoops and outright thugs" surely make a positive outlook difficult. But it's always been "the best of times, the worst of times." You say you may be experiencing that last flash of light before sunset. But you could be wrong. Maybe it's not sunset; maybe it's the first rays of dawn.
Many passages here that resonate with me. You remind me of my friend, Mel Glenn, from Brooklyn, author of Class Dismissed. A very honest essay. I could not read every paragraph because of my eyes...
"But life has countered all these catastrophes by retreating, regrouping, and devising novel and energetic responses that has resulted in many of the living things we see today. Doubtless these extinctions and resurrections will continue since both the destructive and the creative forces are probably endlessly flexible in their ingenuities."

I could read this essay a few more times, and probably will! Well done, well done and right for these times.
My word, Jan! This has to be one of the most profound, honest, provocative and heart-wrenching could-be flounces of all time. That's all the babbling I shall do at the moment, because I feel as if I have just read something on par with the Sermon on the Mount. This is going to stay with me awhile. I'm going to link it to my blog and revisit it regularly. This deeply poignant and prophetic essay should be required reading for every college student in the world. Did I say I would cease babbling? I thus desist.
Wow. Potent! This deserves (in my opine) to be reread and saved.
I will email this to my son who will duplicate on meditation paper.
Walk slowly with this. Spend a few hours and let this be inculcated.
Pete Seeger. I never knew this. Thanks Jan Sand. I have scythes.
They are great tools when sharp. The swishing sound is soothing.
If You ever get married? Jan Sand? Sing the Pete Seeger's songs?
Step by Step. Crow and the Cradle. River of My People. If Jan had one big hammer? I'd have a Real Genuine Red Neck Wedding. Huh?

If the preacher says`
"You may now Kiss The Bride."

I'd run from the church and climb a steeple. Maybe I'd run outside and rake leaves for Garden Compost. I'd sing the lyrics all alone and it not Be`
Here Comes The Bride.
I'd steal Pizza Hut forks.
I'l sip bottled seltzer water.
It be great if we giggled more.
I'd shave my eyebrows off two.
O, too.
I'd hop off.
Hop in a tub.
apology? huh.
Jan Sand. If I get 'touched' from a Great Post - I never know what to write. It's banter.
Thanks you for this.
I Love the word Robin used.
Yes. Blessed. I go now. burp.
A burp in slum cultures? Ah!
I've missed you.
I've been wondering how the birds near your place are,
thank you for writing this update....
... and I hope the trees are greening outside your window, the spring sun beckoning you out to soak in its rays...
This existence of ours is as transient as Autumn clouds. To watch the birth and death of beings is like looking at the movements of a dance. A lifetime is a flash of lightning in the sky. Rushing by, like a torrent down a steep mountain. --Buddha
its interesting that the pop culture startrek holodeck gives some an idea about death that thousands of years of religions do not match.

some more meditations on impermanence here
read this at first light and all I can think of is T Shirts and tanks since

No really! I've a fat book titled *30,000 Years of Art* from the comprehensive Barnes and Noble---I say this as I've owned it (the $$ book--not the chain--for two weeks now. And (like vintage vino) I have been sneaking up on its's opening (it's wrapped in plastic shroud to prevent dog-erring) and whatismore, I seriously do not know what to open it with. I've a particular blade in mind and don't know where it is...Sir, there is reason to open the book.

With enduring respect and thanks for your craft, allow me to say:
I would read nothing more on OS today but this, several more times throughout the day. Nothing but this. I would but, being a social creature, I have posts to read and rate before I nap, comments to leave before I nap.
(i'd think death a woman, taking life with a smile and a kiss, i so do not understand death as male) or maybe it is exactly so, an unforgiving soldier
that moment between last breath and certainty a willing giving up
but i am (if nature naturally happens) halfway there, and my thoughts have no validity

every post of yours is greeted with yes, greedy eyes on my part, you are, without a doubt, one of the most intelligent writers i've ever read

i am one of those who has not given up faith (which might make me childish, ignorant, blissfully blind, i am willing to live with those adjectives) but even if i weren't i'd think i will probably mourn that i wasn't given more time, or perhaps, were i so tired with life, glad to surrender

we will all have to keep our own rendezvous, my own hope for mine is that i meet it bravely

take care of yourself, Jan
I think as we all get older we tend to get the feeling 'tomorrows only yesterday' in our thoughts. I have a journal I have been writing in since I went to Vietnam, one might say an autobiography of my life considering the numerous journals that I composed over the years. They aren't for publication, just a reminder to myself the footprint I have left on the life of others and the thought that I have done good and will continue to do so as long as I am able for my family. My girls are my guiding light along with my lovely wife and even though my passing is eventually imminent they will walk in my footprints I have left for them. I not only stayed through reading this I read it twice before I commented. You are still touching lives Jan, and your writings will continue to do so. You have made me wiser for the experience of knowing you. Thank You, older/exasperated Stephan r+++++++++++
I appreciate your comments on this difficult meditation. It is so odd that we all know we will die, yet we don't really believe it. I hope it is like every other milestone -- just another stone on an unending path.
I am so moved by your honest exploration of this rendezvous. May the burst of energy that has come to you hold you safely for this next while.
A mediation so worthy of a thoughtful read. Since my father has been lingering between this world and the next, I read this with curiosity. He is a simple man, without your words and context, yet I long to know how he views what is happening to him and for him to express some summation such as this, although it is entirely unlikely. Your grace is remarkable, I hope to have it. Thank you Jan.
But this sad nostalgia is out of a very human, very ephemeral viewpoint. Marvelous things have come and gone in the duration of this very small world and one’s regrets at their passing must be likened to the fascination I had with a small cardboard tube kaleidoscope I had as a three year old where each wondrous configuration of bits of colored paper, glowing shards of broken glass and strange beads and bits of brilliant red and green and blue and violet plastic vied with the most impressive stained glass windows of famous cathedrals and as I slowly turned the tube new and equally fascinating views appeared in endless procession and again quickly disappeared.

Oh this is so much a part of me too. Thanks!
Your cognizance of death came early, Jan.
I've only recently begun to consider it's implication. This is a serious and timely report on the nature of the arrangement, for me. Thank you for sharing.
I talk to my mother about it lately - she of ninety five years and failing eyesight.
What she says is, "Never mind. Let's have a cup of tea." Not much change there. She who taught me to read, who gave me my first kaleidoscope.
My old friend and mentor from across the road, Anne, went and demonstrated the thing for me. As you say, " ...the event can be stowed in memory safely and distantly and the internal screaming stops." After ten years or so.
Our own needs no screaming yet, if ever.
What it demands is for us to reflect as lucidly as you have here, on its inevitability and consequence, if any.
I hope your son has access to your words, your thoughts.
They live ; will continue to live and inspire - I can't help thinking that it's these words which are our afterlife.
Thank you.
It may be that last flash of light before sunset ~

those, too, accumulate...

I read this back on the 1st when you posted it...but just stared at it with many thoughts and not much to say. I am in a similar state now. I just wanted to greet you and let you know I was here.
My God--if you will pardon the expression--this is a powerful piece of writing! That business about owing the reader an apology though. So wrong.

I myself have begun the process of seriously contemplating my own rendezvous. Your words have been of immense value to me--words that seem to me to approximate some truth of the matter.

From my mind in my seclusion to your mind in your seclusion, I salute you. And thank you sincerely for writing this.
Jan, I want to say thank you. Thank you for time and glimpse and purpose here. Thank you and more.
Jan, I want to say thank you. Thank you for time and glimpse and purpose. Thank you and more.
What a wonderful essay on life. Thank you for including so many memories. Here's to lengthening telomeres, my friend! Long may you live - it is an interesting world!
Here, Jan, to a happy--and much-delayed--ending. As the would-be Brit said, "In the beginning is our ending."
Nostalgic review. I didn't know that about Seeger's father. My favorite song of Pete's has always been "Garbage": "a thousand trucks converging on the Bay." Imagine how many more thousands it is today. We'll bury ourselves in muck long before global warming does us in.
Jan, who is the picture by? It is amazing.
I love this line: "When one is born into a world of wealth and wonder as a child it is not possible to even approach the appreciation such a world should demand."
Jan, this was strangely exhilarating to read. I am younger than you by, I'm guessing, a couple of decades, but have had many of the same thoughts you expressed. I hope you hang around a while. Your view of this parade is always an interesting one to share.
As to your comments on various culture's views of death and what may ensue, I like the view of the Navajo; heaven is here, all that is required is that we maintain harmony in all things.
But this sad nostalgia is out of a very human, very ephemeral viewpoint. Marvelous things have come and gone in the duration of this very small world and one’s regrets at their passing must be likened to the fascination I had with a small cardboard tube kaleidoscope I had as a three year old where each wondrous configuration of bits of colored paper, glowing shards of broken glass and strange beads and bits of brilliant red and green and blue and violet plastic vied with the most impressive stained glass windows of famous cathedrals and as I slowly turned the tube new and equally fascinating views appeared in endless procession and again quickly disappeared.

Shared memory
Reminds me of Emily Dickinson. "I could not stop for death, but I did manage to get gas and pick up the laundry."
Be well, Jan. Be hopeful. Be strong.
Thank you so much for sharing your wisdom and vision with us. "We all are living backwards," what a concept, so true. I've heard it called "The unalterable arrow of time." I wonder what it would be like to remember the future, and speculate on the past? Your language, it's depth and detail, to me give hope...that's a gift. Here's to a life well lived.
I stumbled on this and am coming back to re-read, during a pause in my day and comment sensibly. I'm beating on myself to Get Out There & Do Stuff, before the heat of the day, tho the stuff is pretty self-centered (fixing my grounds and house, sometimes myself), but sometimes I think why don't I just sit in the old rocking chair. I'm not one to look back (eek, no), so gotta keep busy in the present.

Meantime, in order to distract myself from impending death (no, I feel fine, it's just a demographic thing) I'm planning a big blast, or several of them, to mark my three-quarters-of-a-century upcoming (eek, no).
I just sent a link to this to a friend. Then I re-read it and am enraptured anew. No, not that rapture. Agog. I discovered also I misspelled "rendezvous" in the link I embedded in my blog. Must fix that one day soon. I hope you are well.
( For Laura Bloom ) Jan painted the picture.
great dense post, Jan I will be in Helsinki late July or first of August and cannot wait to meet you. Amazing post R!
i might have written this myself, although i am not inclined to share introspection. greet the sun with a smile, enjoy a glass of wine, wait for your fate or move toward it, and sleep well.
I praise your telomeres no matter their length!
Brave, touching, and thoughtful.
Jan, Why, I had the fortitude to read this twice. The first time was a week or so ago. To absorb it I knew would need the time to slow down - time-travelling as I was - through some of your life experiences. This space you have taken me into is austere and rich at the same time. Though I just turned 5o yrs. old I recall some of your references from my childhood. I had older parents who told stories of the depression, and of their parent lives before that. Errol Flynn (among some of the others) were household names when I grew up. My aunt, my mother's sister had two boys: one named Errol; the other Flynn. That is a detail I thought you might find entertaining as I was entertained by your writing. You have mixed your narrative with philosophy and wisdom. I like your idea that we move through life facing backwards. Bear with me as I work backwards reading more from your archives. It is something I am very much 'looking forward' to.
pls forgive the grammar/typos in the above, I was writing on a tiny keyboard. thanks.
Only a few days ago did I find the painting of your rendezvous,and every day I passed by you on OS,but is only now that I realize what kind of a jewel I have found in your essay,and in you.
I am glad I received your PM today so I know you are still among the living.
I have just come to know you,and I know it is egoistic to wish for you to stay on for a while,although I know that we have to leave when the reaper is calling.
I wonder what experience you had as a child when confronted with death.My earliest vivid memory goes back to my 5th year,when my kindergarten friend was laid to rest.Other funerals followed.
Death has always been at my side.But then,it is good to find an acquaintance in him,someone we know and accept.
I am here on OS.Everyone can read this, yet I would prefer to turn it into a PM.I leave it at that now,assuming that you come here more often than to look for mail.
I do not have the right to ask you to remain a little while longer.
But I wish I could come into closer contact to you.You live in Scandinavia,Finland,a place that is known for her Beauty and her difficult,painful political history.
Somehow I get the feeling that you have melted into the Scandinavian Soul.The Spirit has no limits and is eternal,but we need to find ways of communication within our terrestial boundaries so as to be able to built a bridge to eternity.
All my best wishes for you.I have to accept that I met you today only.
Thank you for your wisdom and love .
It is my wish that my words reach you to let you know how much you are appreciated here on OS,and especially by me as your alert listener and reader.
With love,
Jan, we all will have this Rendezvous, and I will miss the winter, the snow, the rain, the trees, the road travelling, the music, the loving, the gardens, the christmas, the wind, the ice, the dreams, the museums, the coffee..

I will miss much, and I will be even sorry to say goodbye to myself.. I will be wishing me to be safe in the other side. after having my ones safe in this side..but to be honest, I will not be missing me is a journey of tears, fears, anxiety, solitude, egos, misunderstandings, and so on.

Maybe if I had children I would be writing something different, but in my case, I think that I do not want to be back in life. I am a strong believer of the circle of life..and I want to break the circle..

I am wishing you all the best, and if it wasn't for Matt, I would not have met this great, meaningful and needed writing here. In the university, I was taught the ''memento mori'', and my wish is that this Rendezvous, will be a short one.

Trully, your work brought to me tears, remembering that we are all humans, and we all will have this final goodbye...

Thank you so much for writing it!! Wishes.
[r] Jan, your painting and writing are absolutely and awesomely brilliant.

"The future ain't what it used to be" is right.

I began to read and be coaxed (but still reluctant) to go there -- toward that deepest dimension of our collective and personal reality, death -- by your serious and soulful writing -- to face the specter that is there for all of us, "nobody gets out alive" or as Lily Tomlin once paradoxically said, "We're all in this alone" -- I too flashed like Margaret in her comment on Dickinson's explorations of death, especially the brilliant poem of the final carriage ride of death stopping for her.

The poem above also triggered a pop culture memory from the Eastwood movie, In the Line of Fire, when a deranged Malkovich tells Eastwood's character, one of JFK's guilty secret service guards, that JFK's favorite poem as you say was this Seeger one (which I didn't know) and how telling that was. (Pete Seeger's uncle, how interesting, also, is that).

A rendezvous with death re JFK context. More like a rendezvous with likely premature death as Seeger was in the foreign legion, as were great leaders who stepped out heroically like JFK, RFK, MLK, etc. Rendezvous with premature death as members of any fighting force deals with, or as some of us empathize and incredibly many can't seem to seriously, residents in the targeted country or region of said aimed fighting forces. lose/lose all around.

Rendezvousing with premature OR the natural (?) but inevitable end of long life death can never be prepared for fully, and yet the spiritual goal of life seems to be a dealing with that reckoning, often subconsciously but more and more consciously the older we make it to, and trying to become our real authentic selves with as much self-awareness and applied wisdom and dignity as the proverbial slings and arrows of outrageous life will allow at given times, given those passages of life, uniquely personal as well as psychologically age-appropriate.

I recently posted a piece called "The Kitchen Table" about visiting my childhood house after the deaths of both of my parents and embracing the emotional numbness (not quite an oxymoron) of loss and aging and the merciless passage of time. And the sweet sting of memory.

One of my favorite poetic excerpts is from T.S. Eliot's 4 Quartets poems, from Little Gidding:

"We shall not cease from exploration
And the end of all our exploring
Will be to arrive where we started
And know the place for the first time."

Thanks for this, Jan. Your guidance and leadership spiritually!

best, libby
You touch on so many important points of time and place that your words leave me feeling rather impressed with you and your ability to go with the flow of things. Cheers...algis
Jan, I so glad you posted this and I hope you'll put it up over on Our Salon as well... you've probably got 15 or 20 years on me and yet I've come so damn close to dying over the past few years, that I'm hoping we'll both be around for at least another ten years. You've become a kind of touch stone for me, in that I think, "If I can retain the keen edge of my mind, then no matter the pain and infirmity, I'll do my best to hang on and express myself just like Jan Sand."

Hell, I have a novel to finish when I get done with all this bloggish memoir stuff!
I came, I saw, I marveled