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Thursday, October 15, 2009

Life, the Universe, and Everything

Deep Thought was created to answer the ultimate question of the life, the universe, and everything. It took 7.5 million years to come up with the answer. Does anyone remember that?

Yep, that's right.


I am now the answer to that ultimate question. Strangely, I don't feel like the answer. In fact I don't feel any different at all. If anything I feel like I have no hidden knowledge of anything extraordinary. I suspect that this is just a cruel joke by the late Douglas Adams.

Oh, I suppose that I do have some of the answers. Age, if nothing else, makes sure that we are never as smart as we thought we were, yet ensures that we are smarter than we think. With youth, we are consciously incompetent and thus more likely to think that we are greater than we actually are. As we get older we become unconsciously competent and thus are much greater than we actually think. If that is true, and 42 is the answer, then logically, I should now know everything, but be completely unaware of it. Oh shit, I'm Arthur Dent.

Don't get me wrong, 42 is pretty awesome. Somehow I've found myself in the best shape of my life. The last time I weighed 187 was before the freshman 15 hit me, and then I had no confidence, and no muscle tone. Such an awkward period for me. But those lessons helped shape me into the man I am today and although it pains me to look back, I'm grateful that it happened as it did.

42 is wonderful. I am surrounded by people who love me. I've received more well wishes today than most decades. Most of that was my fault. I've always been a bit of a hermit. As a child I spent a lot of time in my room reading comic books and dreaming I was somewhere else. It's nice to know that dreams can indeed come true. Funny how all my dreams had me as the dashing heroic lead, always getting the girl. I may not be exactly dashing (although my Speedo Wetsuit gets me pretty damn close), but I did get the girl.

So maybe I am the answer. Now if we can just figure out the question. I can tell you one thing, its NOT 6 by 9.

Monday, October 12, 2009

When living becomes too painful

Before I start, please note that this entry will not be a happy one. If you are ok with that, then read on, but don't say I didn't warn you.

When does life get too painful to go on? It's a question that I've never really pondered and hopefully I never will. I've many times stated that if for some reason that I'm in the hospital in a vegetative state to pull the plug, but that is a very specific incident and honestly out of my hands by that point. Rather, what would make you want to do something to yourself to end your own life?

Perhaps as I get older and my body begins to degrade and fall apart, that would be a consideration. However, I can't see my wanting to not go on as long as I have love in my life. I'll have my children and my grandchildren (one day in the far, far future) and hopefully my loving wife will still be with me (health willing). If that exists, I can see no reason to not live with what life gives me.

But what if that support wasn't there? What if I had lived my life in such a way as to alienate that support? Would that affect my will to live? I suppose that if my children wished nothing to do with me that would influence me in a negative way. If my spouse became so unloving that being around her was pain in itself that might influence me. But grandchildren would never have such bias. For that alone I would be willing to live forever.

But here I am talking in the hypothetical sense. How about a real world example? What if I had been through several surgeries over the past few years, unsuccessful, imprisoning me to a wheelchair for the rest of my life? What if my smoking habit had finally caught up to me, impairing me and forcing me to breath through a trach for the rest of my life? What if after all that I still couldn't give up smoking and my only escape from the pain were the pain pills that I downed like sugar cubes? What if my wife had become a controlling, domineering harpy who threatened to take away my pain pills as punishment for my inability to stop smoking? What if during this time, I had somehow managed to drive away my only son for some foolish argument as I was unable to swallow my own pride? Would all of that drive me to put a gun against my temple and pull the trigger? Would my pain be so great that I could only see one alternative?

I could not. Not when all of that pain still left me with a loving grandson. I would have persevered. My uncle chose differently. I can not even entertain what he was going through to have come to such a decision, but he did. He died yesterday after they took him off of life support. I don't know about the rest of his immediate family, but I do know that his grandson will miss him. I was never close to that side of my family and had often wished ill of most of them. My worst curses would never have wrought this. His pain is over now and others have just begun. He lacked a week to have been 63 years old. His twin mourns him even though he had driven her away many years ago.

I truly hope he is free of pain now.