I cooked up this writing exercise the other night:
What if you learned that you would soon be no more and you wanted to pass along all the lessons you have learned about life to a young person you care about. What would you say (or write)?
Now I think posing a question like this confers an obligation to go first, and I did, in the wee hours of the morning, but I wasn’t satisfied with my first stab, and I took it down, so here is a revised edition.
For me the reader/listener would be my daughter and I would forego listing all the particularized lessons I have learned by doing everything the dumb way. My story, if it has any value at all, is a cautionary tale.
But I have learned that there is a wellspring of joy that anyone can tap into that will remind them of what is great and good and wonderful in this life.
Even people who are dying have tapped into this wellspring. I think of my grandmother, who had the nurses in stitches, on the last day of her life, trying to name all five of Elizabeth Taylor’s husbands. I’m not saying it’s easy to find. I’m just saying it’s there.
My theory is that every regret, every care, every sorrow, has a finite lifespan, while joy is eternal. This would be a theoretical explanation for the idea of heaven in so many world religions. The soul kind of makes its way free of the web of the world and drifts off blithely into space.
And then I guess I would be remiss if I didn’t say, “Make friends with horses and dogs.”