End of Life: the people

A gal buddy from Carleton College posted a link to this post by Melissa Weiss Steele on facebook  And it was just a week after I was reading this NYTimes post about French Women and "Aging Gracefully".

My wife is French and the subject of preserving your looks is a minefield that any man is a fool to wade in. Especially someone carrying around the suitcase I call a gut.  But why do I care so little about something other people care about so much?  I just composed this simple haiku:

I see the mirror
With eyes of a grandfather
Spring forward, fall back.

It means that if I was 68 years old, I'd feel really proud of myself right now.  Why deny that I'm 48 or want to be 28 if it's less work to convince myself I'm 68 and ahead of the game?

The National Geographic magazine had another woman on their cover this spring.  She's 4 million years old, and her skull is amazingly well preserved.  Steve Jobs and Bill Gates discussed who would be the "richest man in the cemetery," and I put the "most attractive person at the class reunion" on the same shelf of priorities.

Speaking of priorities and cemeteries, my Mexican friends frequently ask about my religion and my faith.   I realize there is some mystery if you don't attend church frequently.  For me, the word "philosophy" still means "love of wisdom", and the difference between wisdom and knowledge is a matter of triage.  Triage is a statistical application of probabilities to assign or prioritize attention allocated, in order to maximize likelihood of discovery of most important outcomes.

If wisdom is the use of triage to apply to truths and probabilities to achieve desired outcomes (or avoid bad outcomes), faith still directs us to the outcome.  Philosophy is love of wisdom, and wisdom is application of truths to achieve Good.  Good is a matter of Faith, for me... (I guess you could say "a wise gangster wipes his prints").  I do believe in higher good works and cannot be satisfied without a currency of Faith.  Religion, in this matter,  is the practice of giving God the credit for God's sunshine.

Faith is gravity.
Our traction and direction
The truth is the light.

If I definitely won't be the one deciding who is going to heaven or hell, then it is unwise use of my time to judge or dwell upon it. Like Huck, it's best to decide which direction faith tells you, and to watch for the truth to light the way from bad directions to those goals.  My experiences in church involved too much rote judgement, and the praise I can give in a closet. I let God work it out, and give Him credit if an inspiration led to a better place (and by better, I tend to focus on "meaningful", but for folks in Sonora it's a little closer to the bone than that).   Faith treats belief as if it is Truth... we do that when we set off in a direction and don't stop every 2 seconds to verify the compass again and again.

I raise my kids on truth first - checking the compass.  I trust that faith, the ability to believe and follow the direction chosen, will find them as it found me, they will be ready. Faith is gravity, truth is light.  You have no traction on the ground if you don't have faith.  You can't see where you are going if you don't have truth.

Chaucer's poem, The Legend of Good Women, is the link to save this from digression.  The first link, to Chaucer's name, gives a modern English translation, but I have always liked the olde English...

A thousand tymes have I herd men telle,
      That ther is Ioye in heven, and peyne in helle;
      And I acorde wel that hit is so;
      But natheles, yit wot I wel also,
      That ther nis noon dwelling in this contree,
      That either hath in heven or helle y-be,
      Ne may of hit non other weyes witen,
      But as he hath herd seyd, or founde hit writen;

Disclaimer:  The skull in the photo is actually a 2 million year old person, not the 4 million year old woman on the cover of NG.

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