"We left off with you describing your view of love and life, with what I can only call an extremely fatalistic point of view, which essentially has all of us powerless against what will be -- we are just some kind of puppets or inanimate dolls or something -- and we are swept along by a tide to wherever we might wind up. Is that a fair characterization?"
"Well, some might think it fair, but I think it's a bit incomplete. I've never said that one cannot act; I think everyone must act as they are driven to do so. It is simply that the time for me to act has passed, and now I must make the best of what time I have left. I have to burn my candle from both ends, because it is short to begin with and because I have a lot yet that I want to write, and a lot yet that I want to do. But anyone with the opportunity to take action must take action, however they think it best. To do otherwise is to be pushed along by a tide, and I don't think that is our collective destiny. I think our free will is largely responsible for where we wind up, unless, of course, events overtake us, catch us unaware -- as in my case -- and then we do the best that we can with the cards that we have been dealt. This life, and its storyline for each of us, is not perfect by any measure, and to expect anything approaching perfection is to be constantly and consistently disappointed."
"But your view of your own impending demise -- your view of mortality -- seems so, so complacent, so accepting, that it should not come from someone who loves life as much as I think you do. How do you explain that inconsistency in your thinking? Or do you explain it?"
"I wrote a poem last fall called 'Accepting Mortality,' and I think it sums up my thinking in that regard, and it goes like this: 'It is the hardest thing/That we humans are called to do;/Accepting the reality/Of our own mortality:/That our time in this life,/Regardless of beliefs,/Is finite; it will end:/No one leaves alive./Difficult even for those/Who believe in an afterlife,/Or another life:/It is hard to let go,/No matter what you think you know./In the end, it is the end,/And the prospect universally/Horrifies:/Not just in the leaving,/But in the good-byes.' The acceptance is not complacency, it is simply acceptance. Facts are facts, whether one likes them or not. And I don't mean to suggest that I am going to lay down and die; I will live on and continue my work as long as I possibly can. When will it end for me? I don't know; and I am not going to waste any of my precious time and energy worrying about that or trying to figure it out. I am just going to do all I can, for as long as I can."
"Getting back to her, then, she knows all of this? You have shared all of this with her? And her reaction?"
"Well, yes, I have shared all of this with her. And her reaction, predictably, was that I needed to get medical care, and there had to be something, etcetera. And I suppose in there was a measure of anger; 'how could you?' or something like that. A refusal, at least on one level, to accept the reality of my situation. I've only told one other person the whole thing besides her, and that person had pretty much the same reaction: 'Oh, there must be something that you can do; there are free clinics, they have to treat you, etcetera.' All of which, of course, presupposes that I want to live on for twenty or thirty years, and as I told you before, I'm not at all sure that I do. And so, that is why I was so disappointed when she announced that we would have to bring an end to the love affair: I had only asked her to spend my last months, years, whatever with her. She was concerned with twenty years from now, when I am 74 and she is 55; I was hoping to last five years, when I would be 59 and she is 40. And it hurt me that she did not love me enough to give me those five years. I didn't think that it was that much to ask."
"So what do you do now? What is the next chapter for you? Or have you thought about that at all?"
"I've thought about it a little bit, to be sure. And I don't really have a 'plan' of any sort, other than to keep writing, keep working, and keep trying to win her back. It may be, ultimately, a futile effort to win her back, but it is important to me to try. It's a bit like the old saying: 'You never know until you ask.' And to be honest with you, I think she would be disappointed in me if I did not keep trying. I told her just today that it is a little exciting, trying to woo her all over again. I loved wooing her the first time, and I am enjoying doing it over again, as if I never had in the first place."
"So we have arrived at no real conclusions, at all, have we? I suppose that I have failed you in that regard, at least. I suppose that I have not been much help to you at all, then."
"Oh, no, you shouldn't feel that way. I think that we both have gotten a lot more out of these talks that either of us realizes at this moment. And I certainly hope that this has not been the last. I mean, I hope that we can talk again, as events warrant."
"I look forward to our next talk, and I really mean that. Until then."
[to be continued, 'as events warrant'.]
January 21, 2009.
Copyright © 2009, Ricky A. Pursley. All rights reserved.