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This Week

Perspectives

Chris Jepson

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I’ve determined some bad news. About myself. I’m a sinker and a sagger. Sigh. I’m talking about my face. My skin, as I age, is not content with just sagging, it’s sinking, too. A few years ago, I noticed that just below the corners of my mouth, inescapable erosion was occurring. Little did I know at the time, but face channels were forming spontaneously out of nowhere that would eventually rival the Grand Canyon, proportionately speaking. And smiling no longer stretched their elimination.

I’m being called home. Inexorably, the tug of Mother Earth is bringing me home. Yes, returns are expected. From Earth. To Earth. It’s disappointing. It is. As if dying is not insult enough, our exterior transforms itself, right before our eyes no less — a metamorphosis. From sparkling new and freshly “green” to staggered step and shortened breath.

But here’s the kicker. As disappointed as I am at my foreordained outcome, I’m OK with it.

It is readily apparent why religions have their appeal. Besides the worthy “value” of a social (support) network, they console the faithful that life has meaning (beyond reproduction, beyond the sorrow), that something (a god) cares and that when all (life) is said and done, it isn’t. That heaven or some equivalent awaits us all. And that if only, if only we believe (“X”), well, we all know the story. Oh, and of course, one must tap one’s ruby heels together while faithfully uttering, “I believe, I believe,” and we’ll be brought home. Hallelujah!

Growing up in an atheist’s home (thank you, Father), I wasn’t burdened with such unbelievable dogma. I wasn’t required to suspend my intellect. Oh, it was perfectly OK, nay, it was encouraged, to have “awe” over the wonders of life, but to attribute our ephemeral existence to the supernatural, well, that simply was not an explanation one took “on faith” in my parent’s home.

I am fortunate to have my 7-year-old grandson in my life almost on a daily basis. He is beauty incarnate. His youth is a vivid reminder of the process of life.

While, at the other end. I’ve always (for decades) enjoyed the company, the perspective of my elders (of those whom I respect). That too is part of the process. And I have been genuinely “blessed” to experience a long line of elderly confidants to discuss/debate the vagaries of life and living. I embrace perspective. Life is good. Except, of course, when it isn’t.

There is no more meaning to life than it is. Human beings desperately want more meaning, understandably so. We’re sentient creatures. We’re creative and imaginative, with outsized egos more expansive than entire solar systems. We should expect no less (of us as a species). Aging, the lines, the facial sags, the sinking face and gut — if it has any purpose (beyond the scientific illustration of the natural progression of a declining entity) we might reasonably approach aging as a psychological process necessary to the acceptance of our inevitable fates. We don’t cry quite so forlornly, do we, when the aged-old die.

Fear of death has some of us fearing life (aging). They are of a piece.

Some of us hear “boo!” when the universe speaks, others hear …