Message people don't always make it
I was having a phone conversation with M and we compared notes of recent deaths of some stars in their 60's and 70's recently. “That's right here” we agreed. The 80's and 90's as I see around me are not nearly a sure thing for those of us a bit younger. The conversation drifted to a certain type of person.
M mentioned two men she knew, one 68 and the other 75, who died last week and who were fisherman. These were just not ordinary fisherman. One was an historian and writer. The other I don't recall. But both had other dimensions to them, and fishing put bread on the table. It was straightforward, honest as much as allowed today, not desk work, and was out in nature close to the womb of the sea. Their lifes were a statement in this modern age. “Honest work keeps the mind pure” could be one of their motivating themes.
But none of this mattered with death. Cancer ravaged their insides and their lifes ended. They made a statement, stood for something, and they never made it to old age.
I recall watching a documentary of a man in Alaska who lived in a log cabin, having left his regular job years before, and befriended many black bears. The bears would let him hold their cubs, a rare thing. Hunters visited with their high powered rifles and looked and wondered. The man continued to do this but eventually, good intentions and all, was closed down. Sickness and regulations ended his 'thing' and he had to move back to some town into an apartment. His life communicating with bears was ended.
Another very older man in the desert carved out passionately a monument from sand and clay with comments about his faith. It was like a small mountain. His health suffered as he did not take care of his basics all the time and he ended up in a nursing home with other elderly. I wonder if he watched game shows as others did and played in group bingo. He lived on, but not as he thought he would.
Finally, there was a very old board member where I live, Arnold. He ran the place with an iron glove and occasionally gave me a break. As he would say, 'because it was you.' His wife was mentally gone and died earlier and his daughter came to stay. She was frighteningly thin and worked in computers. Everyday she would bike miles to the train station and take the train to work. At night when passing her I would see her bike lights blinking on dangerous Military Trail.
She also swam slowly but long, maybe for an hour a hundred laps or so. She got the response from people she wanted. She was strange, into marathon swimming and into bicycles, but people would admire her tenacity and performance or at least gave her space. I could imagine in her mind she thought we thought, '”wow, look at what she's capable of doing. She's defying normal limitations. She's hooked into something special. She might look slight, but look what she can do through her will and focus.”
Well, Arnold, her dad, died in his 90's and later I saw her getting out of her bright purple bug with a cane with her hair colored in a punk style dressed neatly but looking painfully thin. Later I passed her while biking and she stopped me and said '”could you please lift this into the garbage for me. I'm a sick woman.” At another time I had heard that she was hit by cars twice while biking at night.
In her early 70's she had transformed from capable and stubbornly independent and doing things her own way to a sickly person asking for help and some mercy. Her dad left her some money I’m sure and that maintained her but she was a shadow of the 'do it myself marathon lady' I remembered. Her stand and life statement was no longer.
I've taken many stands.
My latest life stand is to see if a germ of an idea can emerge from wherever and whenever it was conceived. It's a message in a way. It makes me pause as I see what happens to people who stand by their message.