Pondering one’s life and death | Wally’s World

Happy birthday to me! And precisely how old am I? Well, I hope you’ll allow me to avoid that question for the moment because I don’t think it’s especially relevant to much of anything.

Happy birthday to me!

And precisely how old am I? Well, I hope you’ll allow me to avoid that question for the moment because I don’t think it’s especially relevant to much of anything.

Suffice to say, death is very real to me.

Now, of course, to some degree this has always been the case, except during my prepubescent childhood days when I didn’t fully realize – in a concrete, existential way – that my days were numbered. I think that’s true for most of us; that is, as children our tomorrows seem infinite. Though children celebrate birthdays, they aren’t really aware of time and its passage. But sometime during the years of puberty, we grasp the notion of death, even though it remains little more than an abstraction in the distant future.

Some young people mistakenly cling to the notion that scientific advances in stem-cell research, heart disease, and diabetes cures – or whatever – will extend their lives forever. Yeah, well that’s a fantasy. I mean, they may live well into their 100s, but sooner or later cancer will nail them. Or, if they find a cure for cancer and even if they stop the aging process, than it will be some new strain of vaccine-resistant virus. Or perhaps someone will shoot you. (If it isn’t one damned thing, it’s another.) If nothing else, the body simply wears out; nothing runs forever.

As we age, the fact of death gradually becomes more and more tangible. Though it’s a poor substitute for actual life and living, some of us hope to accomplish something so spectacular it will leave a permanent, historical legacy, thereby assuring us some type of flimsy immortality. But that’s just another fantasy.   Eventually almost everyone comes to the ego-deflating realization that nothing any of us ever accomplish will leave our names stamped in historical fame. Most of us simply raise our families – which is noble enough – but it surely isn’t a mark of distinction.

Of course, there are exceptions. Some people capture a degree of fame that withstands the test of time. But these individuals are rare. Very rare. Indeed, the general public will soon forget most of our famous, 20th-century heroes. In 50 years, how many high school students, if we still have high schools, will know who Gandhi and Churchill were? Unconscionable as it may be, it could turn out that Hitler is the most recognized name of the 20th century.

So, speaking philosophically and/or rationally, what we have, as Albert Camus so elegantly pointed out, is a most absurd situation. We labor our whole lives trying to accomplish something that probably isn’t of any significance and then we die, alone, and are soon forgotten. And rest assured, no matter how many family members are at your side, during the last few minutes of your life, you’re totally alone with your own consciousness to face whatever it is you face, it anything. And no mater how large your family, within a few years, relatively speaking, you’ll be forgotten. I have no earthly idea who my great-grandparents were and couldn’t care less.

So it goes.

And now I have to take a bath and get cleaned up for tonight’s party. Happy birthday to me!

More in News

Black Diamond hits the reset button

The new Black Diamond City Council wasted no time on settling in and testing the political waters. On their first meeting of the year, new Councilwomen Melissa Oglesbee and Erin Stout and returning Councilwomen Tamie Deady and Janie Edelman marched through a long list of agenda items, many of which reversed council policies and goals set over the last two years.

Citizen group urges council to start pool planning

With the Sumner High School pool closing at the end of the 2018-2019 swim season, residents are asking the City of Bonney Lake to build a city pool to house the Panther and Spartan swim teams. A presentation on why the council should start planning a pool as quickly as possible is being held Tuesday, Jan. 23.

White River Valley Museum opens “Suffer for Beauty” exhibit

Corsets, bras, and bustles, oh my! The White River Valley Museum is hosting its new event, “Suffer for Beauty,” which is all about the changing ideals of female beauty through the ages. The exhibit runs through June 17.

Teacher, student reconnect at living center after 66 years

A person can change in 66 years. At the very least, they’re going to look pretty different. So when Robert Terrell, 96, and Margaret (Peggy) Burley, 75, ran into each other at Bonney Lake’s Cedar Ridge assisted living facility last August, neither of them realized they had met before — at an elementary school, where he was a fourth-grade teacher, and she was a part of his first ever class.

Former Plateau resident lands role with Marvel T.V. series

McKay Stewart, who spent much of his childhood in Enumclaw and Bonney Lake, will be joining the Marvel universe in a new episode of “Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.” airing Friday, Jan. 19.

Library’s art and writing contest returns to Pierce County | Pierce County Library System

Pierce County teens are encouraged to express themselves through writing, painting, drawing and more for the annual Our Own Expressions competition, hosted by the Pierce County Library System.

Sumner School District seeks name ideas for new elementary school

Want to name your new local school? Just fill out a short form by Jan. 26

Judge reproaches Black Diamond mayor, former city council majority

In a summary judgement hearing, King County Superior Court Judge Janet Helson said she was troubled by both the actions of Black Diamond Mayor Carol Benson and former City Council majority Pat Pepper, Brian Weber, and Erika Morgan over the last two years concerning potential Open Public Meetings Act violations.

Man shot in Burnett; suspect turns himself in

According to the Pierce County Sheriff’s Department, the victim was driven to the Burnett Store in order to report he was shot by his brother. The suspect turned himself in approximately three hours later.

Most Read