Sunday, October 04, 2009

Last Chance

Carl Lehmann-Haupt, a speaker at yesterday’s first annual Smoke Farm “Change You Can’t Believe In” symposium, in a talk entitled “Starting Over When It’s Already Too Late,” alluded to—among other things—a practice that I understood as imagining that whatever you’re doing might be, (given the unexpected yet inevitable nature of death) the last time you’ll ever do that thing before you die.

Consider how much more present we’d be in our daily lives and with friends and loved ones if we knew we’d never have the chance to spend our time in this way with them ever again. Carl said that, for one thing, this perspective makes him utterly intolerant, or at least terribly impatient, with ways of being that only scratch the surface of meaning and connection in his own experience.

I tried out that mindset on my approximately 25 mile ride from the farm to the Mt. Vernon train station this morning at 5:30 AM, and I must say, it especially worked wonders on the hills. Imagining that I’d never again have to climb that fucking nearly vertical grade from the river to the road made it almost acceptable, but even more, recognizing that I might never again get to made me feel so grateful I still can, (albeit slowly and painfully), that I was actually, in a kind of weird way, able to savor it.

It also didn’t hurt that the full moon was so bright it cast shadows and the road so deserted that not a single car passed me in either direction for almost two hours.

I had lain awake for most of the four hours I had to sleep worrying about how dangerous the ride might be, but I realize now I’ll never do that again; and I doubt I’ll ever never see so gleaming a lunar dime set behind the wooded hill above Big Lake near Mt. Vernon; I may die tomorrow, but that sure was living today.


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