I travel, I observe, I ponder the travails of men. In this age of gender polarization, I must clarify that when I say men, I mean mankind, not merely the male gender.
Enduring long periods of isolation, experiencing the wonderful and inexplicable bitter-sweet truths of solitude, has helped me to develop a capacity to be an observer, a watcher, even a sentinel, if you will, of man and his lost, deceptively purposeful meanderings.
There are those who claim to have a purpose, a goal, to the attainment of which they devote their time and energies, their resources, their emotions and their wealth, with a single-mindedness that belies the transitory nature and the temporariness of their pursuits. None is mindful of the fact that he will leave behind no more of a gap in his passing as one leaves when one pulls a finger out of a glass full of water. Yet in this striving, the man, or the woman, forgets the things that matter and the only aspects of his/her life that will leave resonances, only to see them in the stark floodlight of the final moments before he passes into oblivion, with a pathos that is beyond measure, for realization has dawned only its too late; for the grasp on life is loosened, and the darkness has swamped the light of the eyes.
In their ambitions, people forget people.
They forget their families, their children, husbands, wives, friends, parents…
The lure that beckons them with an intensity similar to that which drives a drug addict leaves them in a somewhat similar condition. They die of overdose. The rich die because of their riches; the power of the powerful kills them. But it kills them long before they die; for they lose the most important things of life well before they are lowered into their graves, or the wood piled over them; long before the butter is placed on the forehead, and the garlands around the neck; their lamentations have begun far before the wail of it is heard, because the enticements of this world make people blind and deaf and unfeeling.
How beautiful is the voice of my daughter! How lovely is the look in her eyes! How precious, precious, precious is the trust and the vulnerability of that soul which came forth from me and is yet so dissimilar and unique! How wonderful is my son, and trusting eyes and the vulnerability of his fragile life! Such great treasures these are, beyond price and without comparison!
I see parents forget their children; I see husbands neglect their wives; women preen for the eyes of other men; none realizes that in the end, in the end, they will not remember any of the pleasures of those vain indulgences, the ego boosters of wealth, power or fame. In the end, the only thing that will matter are your memories and the vestigial longings of your heart.
You will see around you, if you are a little fortunate, gathered in sorrowful and helpless waiting, your family and friends all assembled to bid you good bye. You may have a little strength to speak and say what you ought to have said a million times every day, that you are sorry, and that you love them. There will be no ego in that day. You will have no grudges. Only a vast regret that swallows you up, and a screaming wish for a little more time.
A little more time – to set right all the wrongs, to go to the one you hurt and to bandage that wound, to make amends, to leave a mark in the hearts of men rather than on the billboards and in the newspapers. Oh, how you wish you had done this before!
But if you are unfortunate, you will depart suddenly, without warning! The suddenness of your call to leave will leave you with a few milliseconds as your life flashes past and reality strikes with great force. Face-to-face with your mortality you will discover the reality of eternity, the rationalizations of science, falsely so called, will vanish for your soul will know in that naked moment that there is a reckoning, there is an accounting.
Men live as if they will never die. I have seen this and it never ceases to amaze me. The inherent pride of mankind is astonishing. Knowing daily that the end may come at any time, even being smart enough to purchase lots of insurance, he still makes decisions and choices based on silly, transient and frivolous considerations, all of which he will have reason and opportunity and time enough to regret later.
The moment of death is for so many a moment of awakening.
Oh that your awakening would be long before the final curtains fall!
Cherish the people you have in your life; cherish the moments each day. Find the friend who has sulked and departed and embrace him. What does it matter who was right and who was wrong? What matters is that you do not lose a friend. Live joyfully with the wife of your youth, who spent her beauty and youth on you, whom you ravished and enjoyed in the days when her flesh was firm and her skin was smooth and soft; do not wander after strange flesh when she grows old, for in doing so you will destroy yourself.
Do not grow weary of your aging husband or be contemptuous of his waning vigor. Do not be drawn to the vitality of the young men for they will only use you for sport and practice. Be true to your vows, true to your own souls.
Be true to your friends. Be a friend to even an enemy, for enmity dies with death. And what does it benefit in the end?
Our pursuits of happiness and pleasure are the causes of our travail. I have seen and observed, in me and in others, the seeds of our destruction are the ones which we ourselves have planted and assiduously nurtured.
Oh for a fresh start!