Back in June I christened this season to be the "summer of death." Morbid, yes, but I think I had other things affecting my thought process at the time. Looking back, I should have referred to it as "the summer which I feel like I am surrounded by death."
I wonder if it was this hard for Ecclesiastes?
There have been no further swarms of insects dying off or rotting rodent carcasses behind my air conditioning unit. Still, I find myself wandering all over my mortal landscape. I can't help it. I spend just about every second of every day waiting for December, when our son will be born. We're bringing this new life into the world, and it makes me question the point of mine.
This has nothing to do with religion. Rather, it's all about destiny. Why am I here? What am I supposed to be doing? There's a song by Poi Dog Pondering called "God's Gallipoli" and one of the final lyrics goes like this:
"it's hard to think, that this is how it ends/stretched out on a bedsheet, sorting through a wreckage of regrets."
I really don't want to be that guy.
Circumstances in my life have rendered me as someone who is highly aware of their mortality. I assume there are many others like me, but no one likes to talk about these types of things. I don't think that it is ever going to change. There isn't going to be this moment where everything suddenly makes sense and the prospects of my extremely long-term future brighten. Perhaps I am wrong. I'd rather be surprised than disappointed.
And any time that I think I am deflecting this process, a few things happen that place me back in the focus. Two weekends go, I was in Minneapolis on a short golfing trip with some friends. One afternoon after we finished our round, we found ourselves on a highway heading right into downtown. Eventually we drove past the site of the I-35W bridge collapse. We didn't gawk; we never stopped, we just drove down the road that leads to it. You couldn't see much but you could see enough. I imagined it looked like what several bridges over the Thames River in London did after World War II. The pieces of the bridge that collapsed but did not separate from the rest of the bridge are still in place, making the road looking like a frozen roller coaster.
Shortly after that, we found ourselves on a different bridge going over the Mississippi, and to our left were piles and heaps of twisted metal. This is where they will eventually reconstruct the bridge as they attempt to figure out what caused it to collapse. Together, these were awesome sights, not in a "wow that's cool" sense but in an "I had no idea it was this level of devastation" sense. I knew it was prolific, but I had no idea the destruction was so complete. I can't believe that only thirteen people died on that bridge.
Shortly after that, I found out that my hometown was blitzed by a huge thunderstorm and that there was significant damage-trees mostly-but for a while it seemed like they had been hit by a tornado.
It wasn't, but when I got a look at the neighborhood where I grew up in a few days later, I was stunned. There were trees down all over the place, some older than me. It's odd looking at a tree that you once wished you could climb thirty years ago, when it seemed like a seventy story building, and now you can step over it because it's been split down the middle by eighty mile an hour winds.
Just something more that always seemed to be "around" since the day that I was born that isn't anymore. That, in a nutshell, is what this summer seems to be telling me, not to get too comfortable. You never know what's around that next bend.
Perhaps this is all impending baby stuff, these thoughts of destiny, the idea of making the time that I have worth it. I am pretty sure that it is. This is a huge step, a life-changing event. And I wouldn't trade it for anything.
This too shall pass. Which is sort of the point I am making anyway.