Just What I Needed

11/01/2020

There have been two or three remembered times when I needed something and it found me. Over thirty years ago I was browsing through the public library in Twin Falls. Idaho. I wasn’t looking for anything in particular except a good read. I remember looking on a top shelf and seeing a small book with the title On Love & Happiness by Pierre Teilhard De Chardin. I checked it out because of curiosity, and it has turned out to be one of the most significant books I’ve ever read. I will not tell you about it now, but I can loan you my copy if you like. It is the 3rd copy I’ve purchased, having given away the first two. It was first published in 1966, and it’s difficult to find.

A second matter of synchronicity came ten or fifteen years before I found Chardin’s book. I went to a conference in San Antonio, Texas, and heard a presentation by Dr. Amy Freeman Lee. I say it was synchronicity because at the time I had no idea what the word meant. My loose definition now is, the coming together of seemingly unrelated events and when together have meaning. Mr. Webster might disagree with my definition, but I’m sticking with it. On that day, Dr. Lee told us of her friendship with Loren Eiseley. Eiseley was an anthropologist and a brilliant writer. He wrote several wonderful books, but his shorter work entitled The Star Thrower is my favorite. Dr. Eiseley was a man of great curiosity and wrote of this in a way that would make any of us beg to tag along with him on his journeys.

Now we come to today. It is Sunday, November 1, 2020. In two days this country will again go to the polls and elect a President. Given the rancor and immense disagreement this year, I believe it to be the most significant election in my 70+ years. I have my preferences, just as millions of others have theirs. I told Suzanne yesterday that I would not watch another minute of news until Tuesday the 3rd. I can no longer tolerate how it makes me feel. But that is not what I’m writing about now. I’m writing about another moment of synchronicity. Something wonderful.

In doing research for a piece I intend to write, I requested some books from the local library. One of those books was The Last Lecture by Randy Pausch. Dr. Pausch was a professor of computer science at Carnegie Mellon University. He was a professor rather than is still a professor because he died at age 47 from cancer in 2008. He left a wife and three young children when he died. As he stated in his book, giving a last lecture for a professor had become routine in many colleges and universities. For Randy Pausch, it would be his goodbye to the world lecture. Yes, it sounds morbid, but don’t stop reading. Dr. Pausch said it was a lecture about living, not about dying. And the small book is about living. On Good Reads, it has received over 303,000 ratings. A successful book, for sure. Now that I’ve read it, I understand why.

This book must be read. I read it in two days. I could not put it down. In our time of tragic world sadness and death, Dr. Pausch gives example after example of how to live a life. It can be summed up in a quote from the book. “I’m living like I’m dying. But at the same time, I’m very much living like I’m still living.” It may seem a bit sappy to some readers, a bit too sentimental. It was exactly what I needed in these times of such turmoil in our country and the world. Almost everyone I’ve recently spoken to speaks of the anxiety, the depression, the unsettled emotions, and anxiety they feel. The same feelings I have. Read this book.

Go to YouTube and watch Randy Pausch’s last lecture. It has been viewed over 20,000,000 times. Spend an hour and fifteen minutes watching this remarkable man talk about life.

We are all in the process of dying. It started the day we were born. What we choose to do with whatever amount of time we are given is an individual endeavor. When I was fifteen, I was going to live forever.  When I was twenty-one in Vietnam, I didn’t know I would live to be twenty-two. Now I’m much older and daily I hear and read of those I’ve admired, loved, and known at a distance have died. Ruth Bader Ginsburg, John Lewis, Jerry Jeff Walker, and on Saturday, Sean Connery. No one can deny that he was the James Bond. None of us will escape death, but as Randy Pausch said, we can very much live like we are still living. In this time of sadness due to the coronavirus, we can live. During this time of political uncertainty, we can live. I’m damned sure going to do my best to live to the fullest in whatever time I have.

Go Well, David

“Success is loving life and daring to live it.” Mya Angelou.

And from one of my favorite poets

“Keep some room in your heart for the unimaginable.” Mary Oliver.

Denni’s Wise Words

“If I am going to live as a dog, then I’m going to be the most glamorous diva princess dog I can be. Pick what you want to be and be the best possible.”

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