Away, way back in more innocent times, when I plied the streets of San Francisco as a young buck with a future hardly tarnished, there was a small deli up on Fillmore Street, across from the Clay Theater - a venue for foreign and art films, at the time. It may still be there, for all I know. The theater, not the deli, for that's nothing more than a memory.
It's the recall of the deli, however, that prompts this reflection. An after-theater snack place, it was called The Nosherie if memory does me right, run by an upstart woman of gray-blond, bobbed hair, who later moved on to bigger and better deli's in the downtown theater district. What I best remember of her were the checks on which she toted up the bill of service. She'd turn it over and lay it down on the table or counter, and on the backside was printed The Reckoning.
To reckon is simply to compute or calculate, but "reckoning" as a noun goes a little deeper - my old Webster's Collegiate specifies: "the act or fact of accounting, as to God, for one's conduct." A bit overdrawn, perhaps, for a deli toting, but it certainly sums the nature of this very recent summer of mine -- rambling and diverse it was, but basically focused on my physical well-being.
It was slow to gather momentum. At the time of my June writing, I was only vaguely aware of it as a side issue - in that apnea business I wrote about. But shortly after that, my long lived-with ankle edema got out of hand, and I was concerned for a sense of recent diminishment in my walking and breathing capabilities. Mortality suddenly loomed, as something too long taken too lightly, the apnea development very much at the heart of it, with elements of a running skirmish underway over how far I was willing to accept the doctor's version of what was going on with me. As the summer progressed, it somehow involved me with more medical people, various Rx prescriptions, and their compounded side effects, confounding what little clarity I had on it. In fact, it was never quite clear to me that the upsurge was essentially a summer thing of mine . . . until I came suddenly and rather abruptly to the end of it, late last month.
Ordinarily, such focal themes of my year are evident as they get underway, often indicated well in advance by an early 'sprout' that most usually appears in February. This year, I didn't catch sight of it. But it was there, all right, on the January side of the sprout time.
I've written before, of the sprout -- probably the most prominent point of linkage between Nature's outer cycle and our inner experience of it. Prominent, because it instigates an involvement, pushing or coaxing us into some area of activity that eventually becomes a central theme of our year.
From a real-world rational perspective, it can only register as a coincidence. But it happens with uncanny regularity, once you are onto it: sometime around early February comes something from 'out of the blue' - you had no part in its arrival - but it seems to demand a participation, for one reason or another. Calling it a sprout is no mere metaphor, for it is as much an instance of 'birthing,' in our annual growth cycle, as any out in the natural world.
On January 26th, early but quite within the normal period, was my appointment with Dr. M, who set me up for the sleep test, which I wrote about in the last issue. Perfectly visible, yet I didn't see it as a sprout.
Instead, I struggled through mid-year with an increasingly morbid sense of debility, prompted by how I saw the apnea situation to think I might be on my way out of this world, however long that should take. With that as my primary cue, I began some intensive reading about death and dying, and my summer took shape accordingly.
My first insight - an accommodation, really - was that it's no great shakes if I never come to completion on my writing or my web site. Be not goal, but process oriented, I told myself, and all will be as it will be. Then, some real insight from my reading: a grasp of the essential fixation we have, that death is necessarily a result of ill health. Death is something we are all programmed to encounter, and ill health is only one of the various avenues by which it may arrive. This seems so obvious, yet we all choose to ignore it whenever a crisis looms. We instantly give doctors the power to invoke some magic and outwit destiny . . . without a thought of how it can impact us down the line.
If you want a candid doctor's perspective on that, find a copy of this little gem: Let the patient decide: a doctor's advice to older persons by Louis Shattuck Baer (1978). It's long out of print, but readily available in public libraries all over.
And I got into a whole further realm of useful reading, in the vein of what actually happens to us as we die, which has taken me beyond the subtle fear that ordinarily keeps us from getting too conversant with our approaching demise. I want to recommend a couple more items, on that track, before going further with this tale.
Final Gifts by Maggie Callanan and Patricia Kelley (1992)Two hospice workers recount, from their own experience and that of fellow workers, the many instances of near-death visions and 'knowings' their work has brought them access to. Anecdotal, but quite amazing material.
On the other side of life: Exploring the phenomenon of the near-death experience by Evelyne Elsaesser Valarino (1997)These are wide ranging interviews with many who have been deeply involved in the investigation of the NDE. Evaluations mainly from a scientific but open-minded perspective.
I am not going to defend myself for taking this material seriously -- you can think what you like of it. But I've been on the fringe long enough - and deeply enough - to know that belief is the ultimate arbiter of personal reality, which means that the true reality about our Being, and our mind and consciousness, is just as remote from your certainty as from mine.
Well, I was getting such positive value from this immersion that I wanted to share it with others. The annual Earthstewards Gathering was coming up in mid-August, down in central Oregon, and there happened to be two longtime friends approaching their deaths in northern California -- so the elements of a journey took shape around these cornerstones. A journey that brought another epic adventure into my life - oh, you've no idea yet! - and most likely the last of my hitch-hiking, and the last of . . . well, let me just tell the tale.
GETTING TO OREGON
The Earthstewards, as you may know, were left leaderless not many years ago by the sudden death of Danaan Parry. Despite his efforts to stimulate self-empowerment - indeed, the very ethos of the work he did - the members had taken his charismatic leadership for granted, and have been struggling ever since to find the necessary footing for an Earthstewards of their own re-creation and destiny.
For my own part, I have always had a sort of detached affiliation, notwithstanding my several-year editorship of their newsletter; and then I faded away entirely after my return from the European adventure. Danaan's death stirred me to a measure of re-involvement, but it was only the convenience of transportation by friends that had energized me sufficiently to attend a couple of the recent Gatherings. For this one, however, I'd have to do it on my own.
Even so, and despite my summer run of maladies, I strongly felt the urge to do so, and committed myself with an advance reservation and a workshop announcement. The circumstance of a mid-August timing led me to lean on the hope that the worst of summer's intensity would by then be safely over with.
The journey was further well-aspected when its timing dovetailed precisely with the twice-weekly schedule of the Green Tortoise bus. I'd arrive in Eugene at 3 p.m. on Thursday, three hours before the Gathering was set to convene at the Lost Valley Retreat Center, 18 miles distant. I somehow didn't give much thought to that 18 miles, assuming that the Tortoise could let me off at the Hwy 58 junction, 3 miles south of Eugene, from where it seemed an easy hitch, probably with someone else headed there. I prepared a fancy sign, with just that in mind, that simply said Earthstewards. Ahh, the lovely innocence of imagination!
For it didn't happen that way, at all. The Tortoise wanted an extra $10 for the special drop-off (after a $30 passage already paid), and the driver advised instead a city bus that actually goes out Hwy 58. So I took my carefree chances on that.
The city bus, it developed, would not leave downtown Eugene until 5:30. It would have made good sense to just accept that, for it would take me to within 5 miles of Lost Valley Center, close enough to phone for a lift. But I was impatient, focused instead on the 6 p.m. Gathering time and the three miles to Hwy 58, ready to hitch right from Eugene if I must.
What I got was a quick ride that took me just a mile or so, to the I-5 access -- too far along to go back, and not far enough to do me much good. My foot was in the glue pot, now - and stuck there when no other ride came along for me. Which simply means that I gave up waiting, after a half hour, deciding that since Oregon doesn't prohibit walking the freeway, I'd best try to make the remaining distance on foot. But it was a long grade in the mid-day sun, with a load of 15-20 pounds on my back, and by the time I saw the mileage sign that told me I still had three miles to go, it began to feel exhaust-ingly grim.
That's when an exit road appeared, as if conjured by magic, leading to a Texaco station and a coffee shop. Small succor, but maybe it held something for me. At least a break from this increasingly shadowed endeavor.
As I got closer, I could see it was a dead-end exit, just to those services, so that anyone taking it had to return to I-5 by way of a jackknife switchback with - glory be! - an arterial stop at the point of the angled turn. And before I could move beyond it, a car was making that stop, with his window open . . . and nothing felt more natural than asking him for a lift!
He couldn't help me, it turned out, because he was only going another mile down the freeway. But immediately behind him, a big SUV-style pickup made the same full stop - 'for me' it seemed - and I put the plea to him. He was only going to Goshen, he said, and I told him that's exactly where I wanted to go. Trapped, but still reluctant, he said, "All right, hop in the back," seemingly oblivious to the wide and otherwise empty cab seat he occupied.
I told him my 'hopping' days were behind me, "but just give me a bit of time and I'll do it." It took two tries, but I lofted the old bod into the truck bed and we were off and away.
One more time, at 73! - the wild pleasure of a windblown ride in an open, bouncing truck!
We reached Goshen in short order, and my reluctant host, having had a few miles to think about it, actually came around and lowered the tailgate for me, so I could leave his truck with a bit more dignity than getting on board. I am only here to help others realize their humanity.
Hwy 58, however, was not the instant salvation I had anticipated. I waited 45 minutes - until 5:30, the Eugene bus departure time - for a hippie couple in a VW who took me out to the country road. I was ahead of the bus that would have gotten me there, but 6 p.m. was only 15 minutes away and I still had 4.8 miles to go.
I unfolded the Earthstewards sign that I'd prepared -- though it was useless unless someone going by recognized what it was all about. But magically it happened that way, within ten minutes! And I actually got to the Gathering in time for the Opening Circle.
I can't tell you, for sure, why hitching works that way for me, but it supports my conviction that reality is not merely its surface appearance. I think that as we live our lives we are also creating an energy web, to the same specs we live by, very much like a spider builds its own web, infinitely delicate and practically invisible, but supportive of the spider's way of life.
The nearly three hours, for four rides and 18 miles, took a lot out of me, however, and it was a blessing to have a four-bunk room all to myself, that weekend, for some recovery. I anticipated no problem in turning up a further ride to the Bay Area, from among the people there, many of them old friends. But that, too, was a piece of innocent presumption, as I'd soon learn.
GETTING ON TO THE BAY AREA
I had intended and actually prepared a pair of hour-and-a-half workshops, one on death, and one on living a seasonal life. It would be the first time in a full decade that I set up a workshop, outside of those Y2K efforts I was doing almost two years ago. But as it worked out, I crammed them both into a single 2-hour time slot, for reasons just a bit vague now, but growing out of an awareness of the weekend's major focus, which had to do with brainstorming an Earthstewards renewal process.
For all my initial intent, I gave shorter shrift to the death portion of my workshop than the other, raising the suspicion that it had just been the means of getting me out on the road. It was a good experience, anyhow, and had me feeling useful, once again, instead of just 'being there,' as has been my mode in recent years.
Of the less than half-dozen Bay Area folks there, several were, themselves, seeking a ride home -- and, oddly, none of the rest were going directly back. It seemed, for awhile, that we might all gang into a camper headed south, but that got scotched. I tried for Santa Rosa and then Sebastopol, but no luck there, either. The others gave up and went into Eugene early on Sunday to catch the Green Tortoise coming through again, but that didn't feel right for me - maybe the $39 it would cost, but I think my bones just weren't into a Tortoise all-nighter at this point. I envisioned hitch-hiking onward, maybe Monday morning. But I connected, at last, with a really neat couple going to Chico, from where I'd take a fresh look at my options.
And as it happened, they had to drive into Berkeley the following morning. So despite the initial hassle, it worked out beautifully, except for the 90+ valley temperatures. I even had a chance to visit with old pal Hal Howard in Chico, which hadn't been on my agenda . . . and to make a nice connection between him and my hosts, Samuel and Suzanne, who were newly and barely settled in the area. And more: like a magical pointer (for me), all three of them were into a set of books called Conversations with God, which no one else along my subsequent route seemed to know anything about. But I had a brief and positive exposure to it, before leaving Chico.
A ROUND OF RENEWALS
Still lugging my backpack, I had Samuel let me off in the Rockridge area of Berkeley/Oakland, the only part of town I'm still comfortable with and have a cluster of friends in; but neither of my first two tries found anyone at home for me, so I went directly to Yana's, the friend presumably at death's door (from intestinal cancer, spreading to the liver) -- not knowing quite what to expect, but she was the only reason I had for being in Berkeley.
Yana surprised me with her radiant energy. Yes, I could see the effects of the rampant cancer, but I could also see how she had risen above it. An absolute inspiration! And it wasn't just for show -- Yana was clear on how she felt about it, but she was so very full of what she has achieved in the last 20 years of her life, that there was no room for regrets and very little for self-pity. Her time, now, is taken up with making sure of the legacy she leaves for others. She insisted on putting me up for the night; and we continued what may have been our last time with each other over some breakfast out, the next morning, before I was again on my way.
Next stop was an uncle in San Francisco -- the family patriarch, now 89, whom I try to see whenever I'm down there. I was joined, there, by my Palo Alto nephew, Gordon, and I could get the pack off my back at last, hopefully for the rest of the journey. In my emerging realization that I can afford the occasional pleasure of a car, without the burdensome costs and care that come with ownership, I had arranged a rental for the drive homeward, by way of a roundabout Bay Area perimeter drive, visiting folks whom I've been too long out of touch with. It was to begin in two days.
Everything should have been easy, from that point. But I had apparently pushed my body past its level of resilience somewhere along the way, and my lower back went into rebellion, gradually tightening, so that by several days into the perimeter drive-about, it was all I could manage, to walk erect.
I went directly to Santa Cruz, after picking up the car, to touch bases with one of our former Seattle apartment tenants who could not take the hassle of last year's renovation, and who was absolutely sold on the greater benefits of Santa Cruz sunshine and ocean. But mainly, I was there to spend a bit of final-time with Elizabeth, a longtime free soul dying of emphysema, whom I've known almost since I set out on this latter-life trail, myself.
She had warned me that she'd probably be on oxygen. But in fact, she was having a good day, and seemed as bright and chipper as had Yana. We sat out in a sunny garden and talked our many reflections. Elizabeth has an alternative radio presence in Santa Cruz, and has come into a degree of late-life settlement, with a local prominence that she could hardly have foreseen during her potluck years. She and Yana are both living (or dying) testimonials to something I'd picked up from my reading: that it is not death we dread, so much as having to leave an incomplete life.
Elizabeth, too, would have put me up for the night, but the only chance for a visit with my niece, Sharon, on this journey, was to be this evening, if I raced on from Santa Cruz to her place outside of Salinas. So I headed down the road again, getting there just after dark..
The following day, it was out into the great San Joaquin Valley, thankful for the air-conditioning I now had. In Stockton, I had a long-postponed first visit with a very special lady from my past. Way back in 1943, she was my first date! We were temporary summer help with Postal Telegraph, I doing my first office work as a mail clerk. Mitzi was a couple years older, aspiring to an operatic stage career. So it was the most natural (but daring) thing, to ask the pleasure of her company at a Civic Auditorium concert performance by the incomparable Paul Robeson.
It's a sweet old memory, of singular clarity, and when I found her name on a web directory, a few years ago, I wasted no time getting in touch again. A couple hours of reminiscence with her was a lot of fun -- at a half-century removed, it's one of the rare pleasures of life reserved exclusively to the aged.
Then it was on to Sacramento, for an overnight stay with my favorite host couple, Linne and Peter. Linne, whom I've known for more than 25 years, brings me up to date on mutual friends I am seldom or no longer in touch with. This time, it was Lew Durham, pioneer facilitator of many things alternative in the 1970s, and the minister who had officiated at Peter and Linne's wedding.
Lew, it seems, had been in a crippling auto accident early this year, due to a moment's loss of consciousness - not caused by apnea, but by an obscure heart condition that can have similar effect. It brought home the fact that we cannot know, until our turn arrives, if destiny has some great test or challenge, or karmic fulfillment in store for us. Or possibly death, itself. How easy it is, to just not think about it. But definitely, a form of denial.
Saturday, I continued north up the valley, until the cutoff at Williams that goes over to Clear Lake, where I sought out Madelynn, who was destiny's agent, not so many years ago, in pulling me toward the northwest. It is truly fascinating, how life weaves its fabric, our intents and purposes (and just as often our fears and hassles) seldom at once revealing the deeper imperatives behind them.
She and I, on this occasion, took what should have been an easy walk after sunset, but it was excruciatingly difficult for me and I had to beg off and head back before we'd gone the intended distance. Mornings were better for me, but I was becoming resolved to see a chiropractor as soon as I got home.
Sunday morning saw me back on the familiar route we once used going to Camp Kilowana -- now a private residence on a chained-off road. In Middletown, I paused for a ham & eggs breakfast at Beulah's, for old times' sake. It is still good, but the ham is only half as thick and a somewhat smaller cut, than 25 years ago. Beulah is long departed.
On through Calistoga and Napa to Petaluma, for my last two Bay Area visits. Penelle, first, of Kilowana days - who now makes delightfully charming (and prize-winning) porcelain dolls; and then Joy - the earlier Joy in my life - who is incessantly on the tourist trail, these days, and almost impossible to match schedules with. We finally managed it, here, where her son, Geoff, lives, and where I spent a last Bay Area night, before heading the car toward Seattle.
It could be argued, of course, that I was wearing myself down, with this intense driving schedule. But the little car handled easily, and no day's distance had yet reached 200 miles. Monday's would top it, though, as I covered the distance to Eureka - again, for a double rendezvous. Rachel, an old Seattle friend, had been the town's Y2K sparkplug, assuring good email contact between us, but we hadn't had a solid long time to talk in years; so she put me up for the night. And the next morning, I spent a bit of further time with Barbara, an Earthsteward friend who happens to edit Eureka's Senior Resource Center newspaper (and does a first-class job with it).
From there, it was a straight 200 mile shot up the coast to Bandon, Oregon, and a reservation at the AYH youth hostel, there. Except that . . . I never made it.
[C'mon . . . guess what happened]
THE BIG RECKONING
Somewhere south of Gold Beach, I was cruising easily at about 50 mph (slower than I usually drive, by the way), and the next thing I knew it was WHAM, BLAM, and I was sliding to a dead stop along the barrier fence, my side of the road. Not another car in sight, and the whole right side of my windshield shattered. All I remember of what took place was a sense of whiteness - the car itself, the metal barrier it tangled with, and the air bag that had blasted out and now lay spent over the passenger seat like a deflated ghost. The one on my side had barely got out of its container.
I was out of the car as quickly as I could manage it past a door that wouldn't fully open, aware of the possibility of fire. But that didn't happen, and in my first moments of reflection I realized that I must have momentarily dozed off. Which is exactly what apnea does. The road was going into a gentle left curve and I wasn't 'there' for that brief moment, to pull the wheel into it. Who knows how many times before, on the straightaway, it had happened? I hadn't been aware of being sleepy; and had, in fact, taken a brief break from driving, less than an hour back on the road.
I hailed the first vehicle that came down the sparsely used highway, which happened to be a county truck, a pickup. And he used a cell phone to call the highway patrol, who arrived within minutes. Everything fell into place like a well-ordered script.
The most remarkable part of it is that nothing was any longer wrong with my back! I had been aware of it the instant I got out of the car, and thought at first that it must be due to an adrenalin rush, or something similar, and that the tightness would soon return. But it never did. Other than a couple modest bruises on my left arm, which I hadn't even detected yet, I was in perfectly good shape - and even better, as noted, than before.
The state trooper, a lieutenant, was a nice guy, except that he gave me a citation for careless driving - which I'm going to fight, because it takes no account of my having momentarily lost consciousness and having no willful control. But he took me into Gold Beach, pointed out the tiny Greyhound terminal for the remainder of my journey (simply a little stall, where tickets are sold in the daytime), and dropped me at an inexpensive motel nearby.
I had a choice between an after-midnight bus, or one at 9:30 the next morning. Considering that the morning schedule would bring me into Seattle at close to midnight, I decided to hang out and wait for that night's bus, which called for some ingenuity, because there didn't seem to be any place in town to spend the next six hours waiting. No food served anywhere after 9 p.m.; no movie house; one bar, but that's not my style.
There was a kind of irony at work, here, because I had a late-night problem in this very same town, 57 years ago. Yes, it was that same summer that Mitzi and I went to hear Paul Robeson. I had a month left, when that Postal Telegraph job ended, before school resumed, and I set out on my first hitch-hiking adventure -- north to the Canadian border, and back. I was coming down the coast, on my return, and somewhere south of Pistol River, below Gold Beach, I got a ride with a fellow who - I had yet to learn - had stolen the car. He got stopped and put under arrest at the California border, and I being with him had to clear myself of being an accomplice.
Well, I fortunately remembered exactly where the previous driver had let me off, when he reached his country home. So, back I went with the Oregon police when they came for the car thief, and at 2 a.m. they knocked on the poor guy's door - the fellow who could clear me - and he sleepily verified my alibi. So they told me I was free to go. But I didn't carry a sleeping bag on that first road trip, and the night was rather chilly, so I prevailed on them to put me up in the Gold Beach jail for the rest of the night, and they decently obliged.
Somehow, at 73, I didn't feel like looking for another night in the Gold Beach jail. I decided to spend what was left of daylight out by the ocean surf - but found I couldn't get there. A fenced-off air strip had been laid out between the town and the beach. But in poking my way around the tiny airport terminal, I found it was left open all night, with no one on hand. The perfect spot at which to await the midnight bus! Hell, I could have spent the entire night on the couch there, had I been of a mind to hitchhike home. But my God, I can't be doing this for the rest of my life!
No, actually the thought never occurred to me. Enough had already happened on this journey, and I was quite content to ride the mid-night bus home. It would afford me some long, quiet time for putting things into perspective.
WHAT DOES IT ALL MEAN?
And it did. I thought about how incredibly fortunate I'd been, when it could have turned out so many different ways. I thought about Lew Durham, for whom it had! I thought about Samuel and Suzanne of Chico -- Samuel, who had trusted me at the wheel of his pickup for close to half the journey down from Eugene. Part of it was in the dark of night, while they napped in the quiet, warm cab, and I stayed alert to the shifting, hypnotic movement of lights on a country highway. What if I had succumbed then?
I thought about all those I've known whose lives had ended in car crashes. And I recalled the tale that I originally intended to use as an opener for my workshop on death, of the incident that first startled me to an awareness of my own mortality and the always thin web of fate on which it hangs.
That was almost forty years ago, when I drove a cab in and out of San Francisco airport (where the car so recently in my hands had been rented). A fellow driver, on that cab line, his green and white Chevy filled with the entire crew of an airliner, returning from an overnight in the city for a morning flight, was hit head-on by a car that had crashed the midline barrier, on the old two-way Bayshore freeway. Everyone in the cab killed.
At the time, I felt a frightening identity with that driver! He was not much older than me, and it was impossible to evade the recognition of how utterly meaningless is a life ended as a cab driver.
How on earth had I managed - and I am back in the present, now - to set aside what I know and feel about the automobile addiction that grips this entire world of ours, but this particular society more than any other, in the shallow smugness of merely not owning one? One of the very uses of my life has been to set an example, that it is possible to live a fully happy and adequate life without remaining hooked on the automobile.
Yes, there was always the allowance that if necessary, one could be rented. But, my heavens, this was the fourth time, for me, in little over a year, which far exceeds that conditional qualification.
I'm not trying to run a guilt trip on anyone (nor myself), but just to bring this into focus: that we choose the nature and experience of our lives, by choosing the conditions under which we're willing to live. As an entire society, we have chosen pollution, noise, traffic density, a general degradation of the environment, social fragmentation, the speedup of time and a consequent departure from amenities such as quietude and leisure -- we have actively chosen these by choosing the meager benefits that inhere in a kind of road-freedom that has come to mean SO MUCH - but in fact, today, so little - in our personal worlds.
No, it's not a guilt trip - just a pointer to the circumstance of how things are connected, and a reminder that each personal world is still, to some extent, an island of choice.
RECKONING THE RECKONING
So the summer has come, and blazed, and gone - and I am the sadder and wiser for the 'dues' it has extracted of me, but much the happier for the blessings it has bestowed. In the first column are the reckonings:
That I must settle, after all, for the nighttime breathing assist of a CPAP machine. I fought it all summer, but that final 'message' is pretty insistent and persuasive. I should have known better than to argue with Providence, in the first place.
That my driving days are behind me. It is pretty clear that I can no longer trust myself on the road, and I see no gain or value sufficient to putting anyone else at risk, for the sake of such personal indulgence.
That my hitch-hiking days are likely behind me. I had hoped to persist to 75, but the old bod seems more and more resistant to it. And a closure that resonates with that very first road-trip of 57 years ago is not to be lightly regarded.
The blessings should be obvious:
That I am still here, and pretty functional - neither spirit nor wits the least bit dimmed by a very challenging summer.
And that I've pretty well come to terms with the steady narrowing of my life's path.
The reckonings, however, are not all in. I haven't yet received the 'tab' -- the one that is most coordinate with the sort of reckoning always left on the counter, at the old Nosherie deli. Nor have I said a word about that, yet.
I have never really believed in insurance, you know. And when they tried to plaster my car rental contract with it, I resolutely resisted. In fact, we actually argued over it! But I firmly took my stand: nothing but the bare minimum required by law and the rental agency. And what that leaves me with, in terms of a personal indebtedness, I have yet to learn.
And how do I feel about this?
Not too bad, actually. Money hasn't dominated my headspace for the past 30 years, and I'm not about to let it do so now. I'll do what I must, within the limits of what I reasonably can -- whatever that turns out to mean. The assets I hold title to are about as minimal as they can get, for anyone as well settled as I -- which is another advantage I forgot to note, of living without an automobile. I just haven't played society's conventional games well enough, to be much worried about its conventional penalties.
Again, we choose the nature and experience of our lives by choosing the conditions under which we're willing to live.
And I am glad to see it go.
I don't weather well
The blazing heat, the thrust, the drive,
As a youngster once did.
Yet . . .
Within the gladness,
a bit of sadness, too --
That another year is on the wane.
The green robust leaves now yellow -
Downward fluttering, without need
Of any breeze to rift their hold,
That younger was so firm.
Still . . .
A few hold on,
Daring Time, itself,
To have its way and bring them down.
As it must, of course.
And the numbers march on.
How could gladness reign, when I know
That so few times will it come again?
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