Saturday, May 28, 2016

How's Your Memorial Day Weekend Going?

I slept until 8:15 this morning.

Actually I didn't sleep - I was awake around 7:30. I lazed around for 45 minutes. It was decadent and delicious.

Somehow I ended up not having to work on the last weekend before my retirement. Pretty fucking sweet.

Gotta work Monday but what the hell, I get paid for 18 hours - 8 at straight holiday pay, 10 at time and a half. America is a beautiful country.

Drank up some coffee and continued reading David Crosby's second autobiography. Got a call from an old friend (Steve) welcoming me to the ranks of the semi-retired (4 more days to go). We had a great chat.

Steve is a member of the Powerful Five.

I started out with the immoral liquor commission working as a part timer in a store in Concord with four other guys as the core to the store.

Me, Steve, Bob, Eric and Rich. Wayne was honorary #6.

What a crew. What a fucking crew.

We got the job done, we took care of business, and we laughed our asses off while we were doing it. Six insane people, six serious drinkers, responsible for the business operations of a state run liquor store.

What could go wrong?

Good friends all; friends for life.

Got off the phone and went out to cut the grass ( mow the lawn for you yard-care snobs). Worked up a powerful sweat - it was 90 degrees and humid but I am one tough son of a bitch and I got it done.

Showered, and then Carol and I exited the premises for a dump run and to go food shopping.

Sound like a boring day?

It is life, baby. It is life.

I am becoming increasingly more tuned in to the little moments that, cumulatively, make up an entire life.

John Lennon is credited with saying that : "Life is what happens to you when you are busy making other plans."

He was right.

For the last few years I have been trying very hard not to miss life even as I am busy making other plans.

Carol and I drive to and fro to the dump and to Market Basket and we talk. That easy kind of comfortable kind of talk that comes from living with another human being for 38 years.

I would call it small talk but I am becoming increasingly more aware that there is no small talk between family members.

Every word counts.

We bee bop up and down the aisles at Market Basket and I try to keep things light. Wise-ass comments and light sarcasm. It is one of only a few situations where I remind myself of my father.

He was a funny son of a bitch when he wanted to be.

I am also severely tuned in to the other couples who are shopping. To their conversations, to the way they relate to each other.

Carol and I were sliding down an aisle and a guy stopped short at the end of the aisle as his wife walked past and said: "Honey, it's in this aisle."

Small thing, but every couple is having similar conversations. "Do you remember how much of this we have at home? Should we buy the name brand or the store brand? Do you feel like barbecuing tonight?"

People relating to each other in easy, comfortable conversation, making small decisions, but what they are really doing is expressing their love for each other, displaying the unique relationship they have built for all to see.

Carol always says it is cheaper when she shops without me because I am always grabbing things that I suddenly realize I want.

Again, it reminds me of my father. When he was diabetic he would throw candy bars into the shopping cart when my mother was not looking. They would get to the checkout and my mother would say "Tony.................."

We are back home. We have unloaded the car and put all the food away. I am sitting on the porch with sweat running down my chest, typing and tapping away; Carol is inside watching the Sox, panicking, as the Blue Jays pull to within one run.

This is our life. Our life. One life created by two people.

The little things are so deeply meaningful.

I am content today. I'm pretty sure Carol is content today.

Pretty amazing thing when two people can create one life and live it with sincerity.

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Sergio Garcia Owes Me

Sitting in the waiting area last Friday, waiting to be poked and prodded by the new Dr. Feelgood.

One magazine to read - Golf magazine.

I read an interview with Sergio Garcia.

I knew the man existed, knew the name but I didn't really know anything about him.

He was born in Spain, is 35 years old and has been competing on the PGA tour and the European Tour for many years. He has won over 40 million dollars.


He has never won a major PGA tournament. That is the rap on the man.

Some call him a choker.

The four majors are the U.S. Open, the Masters, the PGA Championship and the Open Championship.

Apparently he has come close, but no cigar.

I read the interview and liked what the man had to say. He came across like a straight shooter and a likeable guy.

Two days later I am sitting here watching the Byron Nelson tournament and immediately noticed that Sergio Garcia was near the top of the Leaderboard.

I was immediately intrigued and began rooting for the man like he was THE NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS.

He eventually took the lead and ended up winning the tournament in a one hole sudden death playoff.

How very cool.

Obviously, had I not read the article, had I not rooted for him, Sergio Garcia would never have won that tournament.

I am a powerful man and getting more powerful all the time.

Sergia Garcia owes me.

The fact that I suddenly became aware and informed about the man, the fact that I put energy out there to root for him, that is what put him over the top.

In addition, from now on when I watch golf, the first thing I am going to do is check to see if Garcia is in the field.

I already enjoy watching golf. It brings me peace.

Having Garcia to root for adds another dimension to my enjoyment.

Nuance, baby - little changes and perspective shifts.

That's how you color your life.

Sunday, May 22, 2016

Veterinarians & Jewlers Are The Scourge of Humanity

Took my cat Lakota to the veterinarian yesterday.


I call her my cat. I stole her from Carol.

She chose Carol at the SPCA 16 years ago. She was supposed to be Carol's cat. But somehow, over time, she became my cat. We are simpatico.

Don't mourn for Carol though. Six years later we acquired Maka. Maka is most definitely Carol's cat.

So things work out.

Lakota has always been a plus-sized cat. Very large. With an affectionate heart to match her physical size.

Sometime around the holidays she lost a lot of weight very fast. I was alarmed but kept putting off a visit to the vet because nothing else about her changed.

She ate, she played, she purred, she cleaned herself, she went to the bathroom.

However, the reason I avoided the vet was strictly selfish. I knew the visit would cost me an arm and a leg, and that infuriates me.

Veterinarians take advantage of the love pet owners have for their pets. They know you will pay anything to keep your pet happy and healthy. So they charge sky high prices for every little procedure they perform.

I think that is disgusting.

I tortured myself for months reading up on hypothyroidism in older cats, which seemed like the most likely cause for Lakota's weight loss. I was convinced that was her problem but still, I did nothing.

Suddenly it occurred to me - and you are correct for calling me an idiot for taking so long to realize this - that I was playing Russian roulette with her health to save myself a couple of bucks. She is entirely dependent on me to take care of her in every way. She trusts me to do that.

I was letting her down.

I took her to the vet and found out she does indeed have a thyroid problem.

It cost me $295 to find out. Two hundred and ninety five fucking dollars for a half hour visit.

I don't give a damn how many degrees the vet has or how much the equipment costs or how much she has to pay her help or insurance company or any other goddamn thing - there is no way on earth to justify that expense.

Except that she saw me kissing Lakota on the head when she was on the examining table and thought: "Baby, we got a live one here."

I am still so furious that I cannot continue to write about this without devolving into a full fledged and incoherent rant. So I'll move on to jewelers.

I will tell you, though - we are scheduled for a follow-up visit in a month. I will find a way around that. Maybe visit a veterinarian school - maybe relocate to another planet where compassion trumps greed.

I just did a little research on the jewelry business before continuing on in here. The numbers vary wildly, but the typical mark up appears to be between 200 and 300 per cent, oftentimes a hell of a lot more.

That, my friends, is insane.

In other words, when you stroll into Kay Jewelers with the intention of buying something nice for your woman because you love her, Kay Jewelers is saying "I am going to charge this guy so much for this diamond necklace that I will be able to close the store for the rest of the year and still show a hefty profit."

It makes more sense to go to a private jeweler because their overhead is much lower, and I do, but still when I buy nice stuff for Carol I still fell like my soul is being ripped out and up through my nose.

Again you have a business that is praying on emotion. We wee folk work hard, you have little room in your budget for extravagance, but every once in a while you feel like you can afford something nice.

And that is when the snake strikes. You end up forking over two and three times what you should be paying because you know nothing about expensive gems and your friendly retailer is quite happy to exploit your ignorance and rob you blind.

Again, I find this disgusting.

Christ I don't know what else to say. I don't know where to go from here.

Speaking as an insignificant wage earner, it is so hard just to be able to get by. A slice of pizza once in a while, a Natty Light instead of a glass of water. These are my indulgences.

When I know I am getting screwed in a situation where I am emotionally vulnerable, it just makes my head explode.

Who the hell made up these rules?

Doesn't anybody have a soul?

Friday, May 20, 2016

Loving And From The Heart

Had a songwriting moment this morning.

If I had song writing talent.

A little background. I recently read Graham Nash's autobiography. It was tasty.

One of my favorite musical memories is of a beautiful summer night at Meadowbrook, with my lovely wife Carol, both of us being serenaded by Crosby, Stills and Nash.

Absolutely gorgeous. Picture a perfect summer night, imagine the exquisite harmonies of these three talented men floating out across the audience.

When they sang the last note of the last song of the night I had tears running down my cheeks.

It was that beautiful.

In his book, Nash talks about writing the song "Our House." You know it well - "Our house, is a very, very fine house. With two cats in the yard, life used to be so hard, now everything is easy 'cause of you."

The song was a slice of life, as so many songs are.

Nash was dating Joni Mitchell at the time. They had spent a loving day shopping, eating out, and being together. Joni purchased a vase that caught her attention.

The first line of the song is: "I'll light the fire, you place the flowers in the vase that you bought today."

That is exactly what they did that day when they got home. Graham lit a fire, Joni added life to her vase.

That to me is the beauty of songwriting and poetry. You take something simple but meaningful and you write about it. And if it is real it resonates with people.

They had two cats. They had a love for each other as creative people and as mere humans that felt like the answer to everything.

Jump back to today's reality. Carol has been sick for four days now. Very sick. Tormented by a cold that just won't quit. I have the weekend off. Three days of peace, love and understanding.

I was thinking about crawling out of bed when Carol got up after a coughing fit. She spent some time in the bathroom to get things back under control. While she was in there, Lakota and Maka shifted over to her side of the bed.

I got up when Carol crawled back into bed and Lakota and Maka shifted to my side of the bed.

I looked back over my shoulder as I left the room to see our two precious cats lying side by side.

Boom. "Our House" popped into my head.

Our house - is a very, very fine house. With two cats on the bed, a cold in Carol's head, for me a cup of tea and a precious book.

I ain't no Graham Nash but you get the point.

That moment was precious to me. That moment was my life, my sick wife who I worry about, our precious cats intimate to each other and to Carol.

A moment every bit as precious to me as Graham Nash's day was to him.

By the way, there is one songwriter's story I have always gotten a kick out of.

John Lennon. "Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds."

Everyone was up in arms because he wrote a story about LSD. He explained that he got the idea from a picture his son Julian drew of Lucy in the sky with diamonds and that it had nothing to do with LSD.

Read the lyrics and you will dig John's cheeky sense of humor. He knew because he was a Beatle, he could say anything he wanted to and people would be afraid to doubt him. Ain't no way that song did not come out of a trip on acid.

While you are researching song lyrics, look up the lyrics to "Our House." There ain't a hell of a lot more to it but what there is, is loving and from the heart. Painted beautifully.

If we as the human race had any goddamn brains or sensitivity that is how we would live our lives.

Loving and from the heart.

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

I Am So Full of Shit

Re: The blog post titled "A Fascinating Dichotomy".

The last sentence of that offering was: "I definitely smile a lot more now when I am sitting in line on my way to work and I hear the laughter."

Pure garbage. What a wimpy cop out.

I don't smile more sitting in traffic outside of ConVal Regional High - I don't smile at all. That sentence was just a cute way to wrap things up.

I put myself in a box because I am trying to avoid grand pronouncements. Things like "I am definitely going to explode to re-birth at this back to high school moment in my life."

Because I don't trust my own promises.

Then I have to find a way to wrap things up differently.

Somehow I wrote that sentence without slitting my own throat. I don't know how I did it.

So ignore it. It ain't genuine and it definitely ain't the real me.

I strive for straight ahead honesty in here but in some ways writing this blog is like being on stage. And I am definitely a ham. Love the attention. Love to perform.

I get carried away sometimes.

I'll try to do better next time, as Tony Kornheiser says every day.

Beauty & Blood

Crawl out of bed this morning at 6 a.m. so I can offer up some blood.

Got a physical with my new doctor on Friday and they want to play around with my blood before I get there.

I dumped my previous doctor last year after years of a contentious relationship - she really was a bum.

The guy I had before her is the Doc that I miss. He was around my age; we understood each other - we could talk. He wasn't trying to cram new prescriptions down my throat, he was not condescending.

When I was in my fifties he and I were talking about how the body ages. He asked: "Do you have to stand closer to the toilet when you urinate?"

See what I mean? He got it.

Now I got a new doc and I haven't seen her yet. She is actually a physician's assistant. My real new doc won't come near me unless I experience some sort of catastrophe. That is how medicine works today.

Anyway, I "fasted" overnight and zipped in to Concord because the lab opens early. Fasted is hyperbole - all I did was sleep. I ate at 6:00 last night and then had nothing but water before going to bed. Nothing to it.

I wanted to get in and out early because I have another goddamn inventory tonight. Gotta be in at 12:30, probably get home around midnight.

It is my last inventory but it shouldn't be happening. We conducted a year end inventory last fucking month but because some morons in a few stores screwed up, which pissed off the auditors, every store in the state has to re-do the year end inventory.


Anyway, I am driving to and from Concord early in the a.m. and I am overwhelmed by the beauty of the day. Absolutely gorgeous.

Sun is blazing down,  low in the sky, the trees, plants and every other living thing are ready to burst in to exuberance.

The day is just pregnant with possibility.

I would not have been surprised if there was something akin to a manageable nuclear explosion - a white light in the sky smoking out all vision temporarily - and when it all cleared, suddenly, every tree, plant and flower was in full bloom.

A day like this makes you feel and think that that could happen to you. That suddenly and unexpectedly, you could become the person you always wanted to be, the person that you are, naturally, and that your life would just fall into place like the final piece of a jigsaw puzzle.

A day like this makes you feel alive.

Yin and yang, baby - yin and yang.

I am set up for a miserable, long night. I will endure a physical which will reveal little or nothing about my real state of health.

I also have today. Sheer, soul-nourishing beauty.

You gotta take what you can get.

Monday, May 16, 2016

A Fascinating Dichotomy

I pass a regional high school on the tail end of my commute to work every day.

ConVal Regional High School.

Legend has it the school's name is derived from the truth that most of the grads will either end up in prison or medicating their way through life on valium.

Anyway, there is a stop light right at the end of the driveway entrance to the school. Two lanes of traffic - one on the left for automatons like me to continue on to work, one on the right for students to peel off into the school parking lot.

Many times I sit at the red light with a car full of students to my right. A fascinating dichotomy.

I sit there wondering what I have done with my life and agonizing over whether I will have a chance to redeem myself. They sit there laughing and plotting where and when they can smoke a secretive joint.

I sit there full up on knowledge and experience acquired after surviving 62 years on this planet. Knowledge and experience that I have made little use of in the quest to liberate my soul.

They sit there without a clue. No knowledge of how important education is, no concept of how confusing and cold life can be, absolutely no perception of how fast life blows by.

I was them 45 years ago. They will be me in 45 years.

I have lost a lot of the spontaneity and sense of humor, the recklessness and sense of freedom and abandon I had when I was their age.

I miss it.

It becomes so obvious to me when I look over and see them laughing, or hear them laughing on warm days, music blasting, souls soaring.

It seems so natural. So obviously natural.

Up until recently it was a painful thing for me to sit next to these youth. It felt like an indictment of my own failures and weaknesses and mistakes; a blazing hot judgment of the sheer stupidity of wasting time, wasting a life.

Now that I am retiring I see things differently.

I feel like I am right back where they are, right back where I was between 1968 and 1972.

Feels like I have been handed a clean slate. A chance to do it over and get it right this time.

Might seem strange to compare myself to high school kids at my age but the reality as I see it is that I have not made much progress in my life professionally since graduating high school. I have spent the last 44 years doing things I don't want to do. Things I don't like to do. Things that have ripped my soul to shreds and insulted my intelligence.

Things I have accepted and not rebelled against except in an immature way. Not making significant changes when the opportunities arose.

I am lucky to be in the position I am in with the awareness that I have.

Many people my age would look at high school kids and ominously say "Just wait. You will find out pretty quick that life is not a joke."

I say "Have fun. Have fun every chance you get. Find a way to keep having fun throughout your life."

I definitely smile a lot more now when I am sitting in line on my way to work and I hear the laughter.

The Ultimate Definition of Love

"You will be loved the day when you will be able to show your weakness without the person using it to assert his strength."

Cesar Pavese (Italian novelist)

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Lakota Is Such A Sweetheart

I exercised today for the first time in two weeks.

Two weeks ago I got blasted by a cold. It knocked me down and stomped me into the ground.

I couldn't really recover because I had to hump product at work. Carrying around hundreds of cases of wine all week because it was sale changeover week.

I was fucking exhausted every day and experienced little or no healing.

I had today off (thank Christ) and I decided to get back to the workout, even though I still feel like crap. Got a lungful of phlegm, still coughing and choking to beat the band, still exhausted.

So I'm sitting on the exercise bike peddling away like a notorious fool..............wait, let me set this up for you.

I walk into the room and Lakota follows me in and preempts me by jumping up on the seat of the exercise bike and laying across it.

I pick her up, kiss her on the head and set her down on the bed next to me.

I sit on the bike while she climbs up on the desk behind me; she lays down on a box on top of the desk.

So I'm sitting on the exercise bike peddling away like a notorious fool when Lakota sits up and starts head butting the back of my head looking for attention.

I lean my head back as much as I can and rub up against her and tell her I love her as I simultaneously explain that I cannot pet her right now.

She head butts me a couple of more times, which I ignore.

So she starts tapping her paw against the back of my head. This is a new behavior she started over the last year or so when she wants attention. She gently taps you with her paw until you give her the love that she needs.

I sat there on that bike fighting against my body's commands to give up, with the biggest goddamn smile on my face.

Lakota is such a sweetheart.

The Famous Final Scene

I am retiring on June 2.

This the most important moment of my life, bar none. That is not hyperbole.

It is the final opportunity to get my life right.

I am not retiring to drink whiskey and watch an endless loop of Three Stooges episodes. I am retiring to make every effort to find a way to be true to myself. To do with my life what I was meant to do and, in the process, make myself and those who love me, happy.

I have a few major regrets in my life.

One occurred in 1985. I was laid off from my job at Wang Laboratories. Corporations in those days had more of a conscience; I received a generous severance package. If I am not mistaken I was given something like six months to a year of pay and benefits along with free access to a center where I could receive help writing a resume, receive career counseling and assistance searching for employment.

I was well aware at that time that it was the perfect opportunity to change my life, a life that I hated bitterly because it was so viciously in opposition to who I was and what I wanted.

I pissed that opportunity away. I was thirty one years old. I continued down a path of stupidity.

In 1998 Carol and I owned a business that was going down the tubes. In desperation we withdrew retirement funds from an account that was available to us from previous jobs. We were falling behind on our mortgage payments and Carol suggested that we use the funds to stay current with those payments.

I made some stupid excuse why that was unnecessary, because I was deliriously insane in the belief that my life was over. I went out and bought a Trans Am and pissed that money away on other things.

As a result we defaulted on our mortgage and had to refinance at the final hour. Had we kept current with the payments the mortgage would have been paid off in 2001. We would have spent the last fifteen years mortgage free.

Instead we are still making mortgage payments and will do so until the house outlives us.

Both of those moments in my life haunt me.

I am reflecting deeply on those two huge mistakes as I approach retirement. I am now 62. How many chances can a man expect in life?

I know that I have to take a viciously honest look at myself if I am to avoid any more wasted time. I cannot continue to be who I am; I cannot keep living my life the way I am living it.

Once again I have been given an opportunity in life. I will blow that opportunity unless I change who I am and how I approach life.

Period. There are no other options. No other possibilities.

I need to make changes. Hard changes, changes of habit, changes of perception, changes in thinking, changes in approach.

This is the famous final scene. I am coldly, clearly, viciously aware of that.

I also need to find a sense of balance. I need to find a way to enjoy this. It is a remarkable opportunity, maybe the last one I will ever have.

I recently read a psychological reference about people who just cannot enjoy life.

That would be me. I regret the past, I worry about the future and I rarely exist in the moment.

Even when I am with my family I don't experience pure happiness because there is always a touch of self consciousness and self doubt clouding my emotions.

I am rarely happy because I don't allow myself to be happy.

That has to change. I have given my notice, everything is lined up beautifully in a financial sense, and still I feel no exultation.

There is a twisting in my gut.

That is sheer stupidity.

I should be dancing in the streets, for Christ sake.

Anybody crazy enough to have followed this blog since its inception knows I am a man of words and not a man of action. I have said thousands of things in here that I never followed up on.

Important things.

I am well aware of that too.

The last and most important point I need to make is that I owe an honest attempt to Carol. This beautiful woman who has stood by my side through all my failures and insecurities and bad decisions. This woman who I am sure has thought to herself on more than one occasion "This is not the man I thought I was marrying."

I owe her. I owe it to her for me to turn this thing around and to pull my weight in changing our life together for the better. We are a team and I have not carried my share of the load.

That's where I am at right now.

It is a glorious place to be and a heavy duty place to be.

I recognize the mistakes I have made in the past and the pain they caused for Carol and me. I am sadly aware of the years of my life I have wasted.

Wasted time is the coldest sin a human can commit.

Time will tell whether I am strong enough for this challenge.

Sunday, May 1, 2016

Feeling Unsettled

I just had one of those mind shattering moments and it left me feeling a little shaky.

Actually it has been an extended moment, one that began yesterday and dripped over into this morning.

I read the May Playboy interview with Ray Kurzweil yesterday morning. He is an author, inventor and data scientist who some consider a prophet for this digital age.

Some think he is a quack.

His IQ was measured at 160 when he was a child - how much of a quack can he be?

He is the proponent of The Singularity - a moment in time somewhere in the future when the human brain and computers will meld to exponentially improve our intelligence and our lives. They will not physically meld, so don't get grossed out here, but meld in a brain meets the cloud kind of way. Some sort of device that will allow us, when necessary, to plug into all the data available in the cloud so that our access to knowledge is virtually unlimited.

My description is sophomoric but I am too tired to flip through the interview and get the precise definition down. I am giving you the basic flavor here; roll with it.

One result of this is that medical knowledge will move ahead by leaps and bounds and, again, keeping it simple, our life spans will be extended. Dramatically.

I found myself yearning for this to be true. Literally, emotionally yearning to believe that I can be given more time.

He predicts it will happen around 2029. I will be 75 years old in 2029.

He spoke of nanobots. Tiny computer robots that can be injected into our blood stream to fight disease better than our own immune systems do. In other words, taking genome mapping and really ramping it up. Having the ability to precisely target a nanobot for a specific disease.

I am 62 and afraid. I want more time. I want Kurzweil to be right and I want it to happen much sooner.

Next thought: This morning I read a fictional story in The Sun Magazine, written by Poe Ballantine called "Torpedoes D'Amour." The story is about a two year period in the life of a 12 year old kid. Deals with his relationships to friends, his first love and his awkwardness at negotiating life.

The story was good, but what floored me was the description of the kid. He preferred to be alone; he loved to read, he loved to write. He found that being around other people forced him to make compromises that made him feel uncomfortable.

Suddenly, memories of my own childhood came back to me with the force of a sledgehammer to the head.

There were times when the rest of the gang was playing basketball or whiffle ball or birdie ball (don't ask) in my back yard while I was playing what I called "little army." Setting up and maneuvering miniature plastic army dudes and their tanks and planes etc.

The gang wanted me to join them; I told them if they could carry me over to where they were I would play, which they did.

My favorite game of all time as a child was a board football game that involved dice and cards. I would pick a card that corresponded to a specific play, say a running play. Roll the dice, number 6 comes up and number six on the card says "8 yard gain." It had a first down marker on the side of the board that I would move every time  my team would get a first down.

I could pick teams. My favorite rivalry was the Raiders versus the Chiefs.

I loved to play this game. Alone.

My favorite memory of all from my childhood was reading on the front porch. Second story porch overlooking a quiet street, summer time, me with a book in my hands in peace. Alone.

It suddenly occurred to me that this is what I have been trying to get back to all my life. That sense of being alone. Somehow I have gotten so far away from it that I am never completely comfortable.


Unless I am alone or with my family.

Next thought: The very next thing in The Sun was a tribute to Stephen Levine. Stephen Levine was a teacher and author "best known for his pioneering work with death, dying and grief", as described in The Sun; he died this past January.

His point of view rattled my bones and unnerved my emotions.

The main theme is that it is important to recognize, fully and with complete honesty in our hearts, that we are going to die, instead of pretending that we are immortal. Then taking that knowledge and using it to live our lives fully. And in the moment

His words blew me away. So I will give you a few quotes from the article, which are quotes from his books and from an interview with The Sun.

"Seldom do we use the news of another's death as a recognition of the impermanence of all things, that all changes as it will. And yet the acknowledgement of impermanence holds within it the key to life itself."

"I have watched many clinging desperately to a rapidly degenerating body, hoping for some incredible miracle, anguished by a deep longing for fulfillment  never found in life. I have also met those whose death was an inspiration to all about them. Who died with so much love and compassion that all were left filled with an unnamed joy for weeks afterward."

"Few participate in their life so fully that death is not a threat, is not the grim reaper stalking just beyond the dark windowpane. Most fight death as they fought life, struggling for a foothold,  for some control over the incessant flow of change that exemplifies this plane of existence. Few die in wholeness. Most live a life of partiality and confusion."

"I see so many people on their deathbed, looking over their shoulder and saying: 'What the hell was that all about? My life has passed and I thought life was something that was about to happen, and never did.' I think we trade off our life for pretty shallow experiences of thought, and our feeling is blocked, and we show no mercy."

Levine tells a story of a Thai meditation master explaining how recognizing impermanence now makes life more precious. He talks of a glass, a glass that he can drink water from, a glass that can reflect the sun in beautiful patterns, a glass that when tapped has a lovely ring to it. But he knows some day the glass will break, so effectively it is already broken. He says: "When I understand that the glass is already broken, every moment with it is precious. Every moment is just as it is, and nothing need be otherwise."

Levine: "When we realize that, just like the glass, our body is already broken, that indeed we are already dead, then life becomes precious, and we open to it just as it is, in the moment in which it is occurring."

"If our only spiritual practice were to live as if we are already dead, relating to all we meet, to all we do, as though it were our final moments in the world, what time would there be for old games or falsehoods or posturing?"

A lot of heavy stuff here.

For me, over the last two days, these things I have read exposed my deep desire to experience another sixty two years of life. They got me thinking about my thoughts on death and how I can live my life now in a way that will leave me fulfilled. They sparked in me a memory back to what I believe is my true essence. An essence I have long abandoned.

I am feeling unsettled.