Ain’t nobody here but us

Some questions about the times in which we live.

I have written on many topics of estate planning, including its benefit of allowing each of us an opportunity to have sometimes difficult conversations with loved ones and to consider – as if we really meant it – about how we want things to go if we can’t decide for ourselves.

Who do we choose to be and whom to become?

Practice becoming.

Kurt Vonnegut included that sentence in a response to a high school student’s assignment of writing a letter to his favorite author. Practicing means trying new things, and new ways of being in the world that feel strange and unfamiliar.

I don’t know if it appears in any of Shaun Usher’s wonderful books that feature compilations of letters.

As long as you don’t practice it, this dying and becoming, you are only a dreary guest on this dark earth.

The quote is attributed to Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, but I’m unable to find its precise source in his body of work. I studied some of Goethe’s writings in college. I wasn’t quite ready for Die Leiden des Jungen Werthers, his literary expression and his contribution to the Sturm und Drang movement.

Who then are the guests and who the residers?  If “residers” seems a strange choice, I chose it based on one of its definitions as an intransitive verb: to be present as an element or qualityThis meaning imparts a sense of belonging: belong on; belong to; and belong with.

We’re all here together – each of us perhaps for a different reason or purpose or moment.

Unbeing dead isn’t being alive.

That one from e.e. cummings, of course, his POEM (or “the divine right of majorities, that illegitimate offspring of the divine right of kings” Homer Lea).

I think we are in a post- and pre-pandemic period that is akin to the time of the Sturm und Drang’lers’ – what with all the heightened emotionality, free expression of reactions (not responses) to the “perceived constraints of rationalism.” That bit from Wikipedia, which I support but wish they would not continue to impose their double standard for the review and publication entries of notable women.

Does our willingness to scream at others prove that we’re alive?

How is it that we can know we’re alive? On February 28, 2018, I wrote a post about Jahi McMath,  a teen who was declared dead (brain dead) in California on December 12, 2013 and also on June 22, 2018 in New Jersey. Identifying death as a biological event and/or social construct is a complicated matter! Read here for more details concerning the conundrum with defining death in the Jahi McMath case.

So what is life then if we have such trouble defining death?

What I know: life doesn’t provide many answers, but is rich in mysteries and questions.

© Barbara E. Cashman and www.DenverElderLaw.org  2021. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Barbara E. Cashman and www.DenverElderLaw.org  with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.