Carpe Diem and Memento Mori

I walk with Roxy each day in the local municipal Cemetery.

It started out because anywhere else, our self absorbed fellow citizens walk with their dogs off leash.. And the do it wherever they please. I suspect that many of them really get a kick out of scoffing at the leash laws right in front of all the signs that say, All dogs on leash all the time.

It is tempting to skewer that behavior with the long thorns of acidic sarcasm and wicked wit. Let me just dismiss that path by saying that we are merely seeing another manifestation of the heads in the sand, I’m entitled Unites States of Narcissism. It is our culture now.

i was struck by the quiet in the cemetery. Expecting to be put off by being around dead people, I was surprised. No smell of rot. No hands reaching up out of the grave to grab Roxy and pull her, screaming, back down undergroud. No apparitions being exhaled like thin smoke by the grave. Not a thing from Hollywood at all. Just quiet and grey stones in varying stages of wear stuck at tottering angles, like uneven teeth in an old man’s mouth, On brown grass. Gothic trees reaching with concentration camp limbs silently to something we cannot see, lording their powerful shadowed presences over us lesser mortals.


Nancy had found this place after having been frightened by dogs off lead while walking Roxy also. She had urged me to go, but I was reluctant. Why?

We had made a memorial to our three beloved German Shepherds Zora, Bruno and Kaiser. All three died in our house on the mountain with us right by their sides. I took to heart what Butch, our deceased Schutzhund trainer had said was his moral commitment to his GSDs: he would make certain that the last thing any one of them saw on this earth was his loving face. Amen. Me too.

We had found a cross shaped piece of wood, the day after Bruno died, on a spot in the woods where he loved to lie. More than coincidence, random chance?  I stained it, found rocks and spray painted them gold, and made a little memorial mound on that spot. I loved to go there, sit on the bench I’d made of cinderblocks and boards, remember them while loving the beauty of the woods and feeling, still achingly sorrowful for their absence, grateful for their lives.

On the last night we were in that house, a really perfect cool clear night on last March 29-30, we took the urns with their ashes, and spread them in our woods memorial chapel.  I read a farewell passage and prayer we had written for the occasion. We did the same at all their favorite outdoor spots.

That was supposed to have tied off the loose ends of grief. It did not. It did not because it was aimed,ever so subtly, at relieving me, at least, of my grieving for them — which I still am doing and most likely will do until the day when I die too. I had not gotten the message.

The cemetery is not colorful, and the plastic flowers or wilted real ones just emphasize by contrast the grey, colorless ness of a whole bunch of old and new graves. It is clear to me that there will always be loose ends, that I could well be one of those headstones one day, and at 76, not too far off.   My memorial spot back up on the mountain– well, it was not an acceptance of life on life’s terms.  And that was a well meant mistake, an act of American pretend.  It was a way to hang on.  You cannot hang onto anything gone from this world, it’s like trying to grab and hold a chunk of The Present.

What’s left? For me what’s left is the realization that this life, which seems so hard and sturdy with its atoms and molecules and thumbs that hurt when hit with my hammer, is just an illusion.  When you cannot stop the show and cannot hold onto the present, how can it be otherwise?  A glorious, beautiful, super ultra high definition movie which we crate as we act out our roles.    A moving feast.  What a theater, what a chance to grow!

So: Memento mori–remember that I too must die.  And I’ve discovered that in doing that, I find much much more of rich joy in that ephemeral elusive thing we call the present.  Heavens, today is a great day to die on!  I now know that native American wisdom to be a statement of gratitude for reality, not a morbid preoccupation with Holllywood’s contorted view of death and dying.

Thank heavens for my cemetery walks.  I have my beloved Roxy with me, sometimes my dear, patient, loving and long suffering Nancy —  and being there above ground provesI’ve got one more day on which to enjoy the abundance of God’s earth. Carpe diem and memento mori.

Time to be counted.

It is hard to imagine that most Americans do not want this maelstrom of immorality in government to stop.  It is hard to believe that we think this is just another administration — a bit prone to intemperate thoughts and actions, but still just another one.

How can anyone not see the obvious?  This is a disaster, from which we can already recover only with years of effort.  And there may be years of the same ahead of us.

state of the Trump and See+Hear No Evil Congress union

The acrimony, hate, deception, manipulation, outright lying, etc is not resolving anything, except perhaps our nation’s moral traditions.  And they are being resolved into the dust bin.  Lets face the only fact which really counts:  damage to our reputation, our economy, our cohesion, our foundations has already been accomplished.  The train wreck has already started.  It is only a question of how bad it will be before we can move again.

Those behind this collapse have unending financial assets to fuel their assault on American democracy.  They can do nothing else:  they are driven by morally empty selves which they try to fill with lucre  But it just pours through.  So,  having found that money cannot fill a soul, but believing in the self-justifying Gospel of Greed, they, now want the asset behind the money:  power.

In more of their frantic grasping in which nothing can fill their need to be better and therefore have an identity, They have bought legislatures, governors, Representatives, Senators, Presidents, federal department heads, state administrators, local administrators and more.  They have contorted the demographic maps of the United States to disenfranchise their opponents and those who are not WASPs.  They have bought propaganda which has taught our increasingly less educated fellows utter nonsense: that people, not guns do not kill people, that liberal traditions are inconsistent with Christianity and democracy, that might makes right and therefore we must wage war, that other nations are “shitholes” (do they ever watch Amazing Race?), that the main problems are first  the existence of the Federal Government, second Muslims, third Mexicanss, fourth liberals and finally the taxes they have to pay.  They have bought the whole nation almost, lock, stock, and barrel.  Despite the very obvious fact that it does not work, they will continue to try to own and control everything they can until their focus on position, power, status and prestige blinds them and they get fatally bliindsided.

The failure of democracy is not something we have to avoid, it is hair-close too being a fait accompli.  All we can do with our present catastrophe is limit its damage and try to hasten its implosion.

Acrimony, partisan political warfare, hate-mongering, suspicion, one-upsmanship, blame casting, narcissistic grandstanding, and  win-lose competition for power all serve only one purpose now:  to keep the rest of us who are paying for the greed of wealth and corruption, scattered and incapable of uniting.  If we could unite, the bloodsucking leeches of lucre would be  discarded like old, infected  sick-room bed clothes..  Nothing is more powerful than a democracy aroused to unified action, they could not withstand our wrath and they know it.

We are riveted on them but are paying attention to the wrong thing. Our anguished attention is precisely the high octane their coup demands.  We are enmeshed and enabling calamity,  All the while we are like the rats in hot water:  the temperature goes up slowly and we do not notice that we are beginning to be boiled alive..

It has been an assumption that we have a huge gap to bridge here. I have thought and thought about on what common ground we could rejoin civil discourse and return to governing rather than fighting and negating.  I missed the obvious:  we are beyond that now, the common ground has been heaved up high down the middle in a bipartisan cataclysmic eruption of intolerance. self righteousness and hate.  There is no place to stand on it together.  As some of my NJ friends might well have said:: fahgetabaatit.

But in that dark cloud is a silver lining  We can treat this as an opportunity to take the train of our future off these old, rusted, dangerous rails and find new ones. We can stop engaging with negation and focus on building once this current national temper tantrum is done with.  We can think of the future while refusing any obeisance to those who would be king.

The best statement I’ve read of that and what we must be doing now — those of us with any moral conscience left – was just published.  Sojourners’ magazine:

Read it.  Hint:  it is after all about the Golden Rule, but the Rule riveted to the floor of the morally right path. I believe that our nation–one nation, under God with liberty and justice for all– will rise or fall depending on whether we choose to do what it says there.

von Treschkow: the organizer of the Valkyrie plot to kill Hitler.  When it failed, he took his own life rather than give the Nazis any part of himself  or his knowledge at all