Well here I am, a year older today. I don't feel any different, but the counter is clicking away. Each time it rolls over to a new number, it gets more alarming to me. One day, the counter will stop. Then, I will be no more.
For a while after I'm gone, I will be remembered: "Remember that weird guy, whutzisname, who used to rail on about the evils of government, the value of a gold monetary standard, and who thought the highest form of humour was a pun? Ha-ha-ha. He was the punniest guy I ever met."
Then, I will be remembered only by a few family members, perhaps by my son and my nieces and nephews. Finally, one day, I will be only a name in someone's genealogy program.
Do I care? You bet I do. It is not just that I want to live, it is a matter of how the world will be able to go on without me. How would that be possible? Isn't that how we all feel about ourselves? We are the centre of the universe, aren't we? Nothing else, and no-one else matters. Actually, we don't really think that way intellectually. We know better. Our brain tells us that we are but one of many humans here on earth, and that there are many galaxies in our universe, each of which hold stars in their gravitational embrace that could have planets which support life. Perhaps not life as we know it. Maybe better forms of life. Maybe worse. Will we ever know?
At an emotional level, though, we all tend to think that we are more important than we really are. We may be important to our children and families. We may be important to our employees and friends. Beyond that, no-one much gives a damn whether we live or die. Why should they? People start and end life every day. Some make a difference. Some merely take up space. Either way, each has a right to live, and a right to decide for themselves how to live.
I often wonder what life on earth will be like after I am gone. Will the human race be more intelligent and behave more rationally? I doubt it. Will individual humans live longer, on average, than they do today? Almost definitely. Will it make a difference? Maybe it will, to those who want to live, those who are productive, active and appreciative of life. But how about those who feel used up and tired, and who simply want to expire to see what is on the other side? I don't know. I don't see the value of hooking up people to machines to keep them alive, but I think the bigger problem may eventually be that some governing body will get to decide who lives or dies, and when. On your 60th or 70th or 80th birthday, you will be deemed to have run out of your allotted time, and you will be encouraged, at the end of a syringe, or by forced ingestion of a pill, to depart this earth. Draw your last breath. Bye bye. And good riddance. A new generation needs the air you breathe, the water you drink, the ground you walk on. Get lost.
Is that ahead in the future of our world? I wouldn't be surprised. I hope not.
As a child, I dreamed of a perfect world, a fair place where everything worked, where no-one got sick or injured, where people were nice to each other, where the sun shone by day and it rained at night. I dreamed of a lot of things.
As adults, we can still dream. I now dream of a perfect world, a fair place where everything works... well, you know, the same things I dreamt about as a child. There is a difference though. As an adult, I know that my dreams won't come true, at least not those particular dreams. The world isn't perfect. People aren't perfect. Life isn't perfect.
But life is still pretty damn wonderful. I love being alive. I'm gonna hang in there, regardless of what goes on around me and how disappointing some things might be from time to time.
So... that means that if you drop by to read this blog a year from now, you are going to be subjected to more of my birthday ruminations. And the year after that, and the year after that, and so on.
Stick around. Let's grow old together.