Watching this report on a woman reaching her 109th birthday got me thinking. Whenever someone gets up there in years they ask to what they attribute long life. In this case it was God and basketball. My favorite answer to this question, and sorry I can’t remember who first said it, maybe George Burns, was just not dying. Continue reading “Some Thoughts on Longevity”
The officers of the Omaha Police department put down a 120 pound cougar in west Omaha. I understand why they felt they had to euthanize the cat. I don’t agree with it, but I see their POV about public safety. Continue reading “Paws Up, Don’t Shoot.”
Years ago there was a movie directed by Orson Wells called “Citizen Kane“. It was about a reporter talking to everyone connected to a publishing tycoon in an attempt to discover the meaning of the tycoon’s last words. The movie started with the death of the wealthy man after he says the one word: ‘Rosebud’. No spoilers here, it’s a classic movie, you should see it for yourself.
Through out history when someone of note died, if he had said something great or not so great during his last days, they were quoted and remembered. Books have been written dedicated to the last uttered words of famous people.
Another great man died this week. He was not a tycoon, he was an actor. However his most famous character inspired thousands of young people, me included, to be interested in computers and technology. In my youth I could not miss an episode of Star Trek with Mr. Spock played by Leonard Nimoy. Continue reading “What’d He Say?”
You’re gonna die. (No, that’s not the wish so get over yourself and just keep reading.) You’re probably not gonna die today or tomorrow but sometime probably in the next 50 or 60 years you’re gonna die. Maybe it’ll be quick or maybe it’ll be after a long, protracted, painful illness. Now look at the family member next to you. They’re gonna die too. And it will be within the same probable time span.
What if you knew that you would not be spending the Holiday Season with that family member next year because sometime in the coming year they are gonna die? Think about how would you spend this holiday time with them differently? Continue reading “A Christmas Wish”
This fall holiday of Halloween trick or treat where you dress up in the most current monster costume and ‘threaten’ neighbors until you get enough candy to put even non-diabetics into a sugar coma, marks the beginning of the Christmas season for family get togethers and end of the year celebrations. But for many people not of a Christian belief, such as Wiccan, the Halloween holiday marks the passing of the old year and wishes for the best in the upcoming year.
The original name for this holiday celebrated at this time of year is Samhain, pronounced Sow-wen. One source says that the word comes from the Gaelic words ‘sam’ which means summer and ‘fuin’ which means end. This also marks the end of the year’s harvest. Most people celebrate it to coincide with Halloween on October 31 but the true sabbath is celebrated during the first full moon in Scorpio.
Samhain is a time of endings therefore associated with the Crone aspect of the triple goddess, the elder stages of life revered with images of Hecate. This is probably the origin of the hag-like witches with long wart-crowned noses however Wiccans find this image of a witch as offensive as an African-American might find a black-face comedy routine.
Samhain is also a time of new beginnings and carries many of the same traditions commonly associated with the Julian calendar’s New Year’s Eve. It’s a time to put behind us all the harmful things in our life. It makes a perfect time to quit smoking or other bad habits of mind or body. Part of the celebration for many Wiccans is using a household broom called a besom to ritually sweep the home of the previous year’s bad influences.
Since Samhain is the death of the old year and birth of the new the veil between the worlds of the living and dead is said to be the thinnest on this day. That makes it a good time to remember ancestors with peace and love. Wiccans will decorate their alters with photos of passed loved ones while sharing the favorite foods and drinks of their dead relatives with guests. Many also leave a plate of food outside the home for the souls of the dead.
So this week-end while you are walking like a zombie, waving your fairy princess wand or bobbing for apples, take a few moments to realize that for some this is still a religious holiday and they are spending a more somber period of self-reflection.
- Cunningham, Scott, (1999).Wicca:A Guide for the Solitary Practitioner. St. Paul, MN: Llewellyn Publications.
- Drew, A. J., (1998) Wicca For Men. New York, NY: Kensington Publishing Corp.
Where do folks in Hell tell people to go?
Close to forty thousand lives are lost to suicide each year. There must be a reason for this. It must be something simple. Something like… EVERYONE HAS DEPRESSION. The only difference is that some of us deal better than others.
In fact, people having depression and thoughts of suicide are not anything new. Read Hamlet’s famous soliloquy. You know the one, it starts “To be or not to be.”
Yes, I have severe depression. I’ve had it for years. I wake up every morning with disappointment; disappointment that I’ve woken up. And if I believed in the one-shot-life dogma of the Judeo-Christian religion I probably would have offed myself a long time ago. The belief that once you die you get judged to go up, down or some other more mysterious outcome causes a person to feel that death is the solution and we’ll work out the details when we get there.
I have absolutely no problem with people who commit suicide. Yes, its sad for those who are left behind but the well known truth is that everyone dies. And I strongly believe that we all have the right, whether we take advantage of that right or not, to decide when that death is going to happen. Some people may not want to know when they are going to die, but having control over that one last act is for some people, the only control over their life that they ever had.
However I am a firm believer in reincarnation. That belief that you keep doing it until you get it right. Sorta like the student in English class that keeps getting their paper handed back to them from the teacher with big red letters at the top that say “I KNOW YOU CAN DO BETTER!” It makes more sense to me to think that since even the christians teach that life is a series of lessons, there has to be more than one class. I think it’s more like you live – you get lots of life lessons – you die and get your grade for the class – then if you haven’t graduated yet, perhaps by moving on to Nirvana, you come back to the next class for more lessons.
So this philosophy is what keeps me breathing instead of “cinching up my belt around my ‘waste’.” If life sucks this bad this time, what the hell is it gonna be like the next time? I’m in no hurry to find out. To paraphrase the bard, it’s better for me to suffer the current slings and arrows of outrageous fortune then to take arms against a sea of trouble and by opposing end them. I’m in no hurry to see what dreams may come otherwise. At least that’s what I think.
People have trouble remembering important dates. One of these important dates is a wedding anniversary. So some folks try to pick a wedding day on a special, easy-to-remember day. Check the number of weddings that were on July 7, 2007. Easy to remember (07-07-07) so new wives married on that day could count on their husbands remembering their anniversary and delivering on the yearly obligatory flower order and jewelry.
On top of that seven is considered a lucky number so a successful, long lasting marriage is sure to be the result. And the jewelry is only insurance.
But how ’bout someone who gets married on Friday the thirteenth? Whiskey Tango Foxtrot is that all about? My normally sensible stepson did just that a couple of years ago. Not only did the marriage last about as long as a midwestern tornado with almost as much financial damage, but his sister’s fiancé died less than a month after the ceremony. Really bad luck all around. But it did present an unusual opportunity to compare a wedding and a funeral in quick succession.
These two life altering events hold lots of similarities with each other. First there are the side gatherings of wedding showers or wakes where people talk about the persons involved and donations are made to the cause which is probably a little better tradition than burying a pharaoh’s household slaves with him. In both cases people get dressed up, then they gather around and cry like schoolgirls at the end of term. The main ceremony is usually but not always in a church, officiated by a cleric of some sort. And afterwards it’s all about the food. Cake and catered, undersized, mystery entrees symbolizing the couple’s new life together for the wedding, and stale mystery meat sandwiches served in a church basement, I guess symbolizing death, after the funeral.
Thirty odd years ago, every month or so seemed to have a friend’s wedding scheduled. In addition, several were mine which I always showed up for, for better or worse. Now I’ve reached a time of life that I notice I’m attending more and more funerals. The last funeral I attended was a family member’s scheduled at the same time as a funeral of a work associate from long ago. In an effort to keep harmony with the people I see every day, I opted for the one for the family member. But when it’s time for mine I’ve decided I’m not going to it. I’ll be busy with other things. That’ll show ’em.