Yes, You Will Die


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We will pray for you, if that’s any consolation. You ask “is there any way to avoid death?” In the long run, I’m afraid not. We are all on that journey, like cattle in a chute. We hear the frantic mooing of those who are ahead of us on the one-way path to the slaughterhouse. There, a man who holds a large hammer stands poised to strike.

 

What, you have other plans? Sorry, they amount to no more than wishful thinking. This world is a small part of a much greater cosmos. Will you persist? I can’t promise anything. To tell the truth, I don’t know what awaits us. I only know we’re in the chute. You can moo and kick the walls all the like, but you will move forward. See, you just took another step!

 

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THE ONLY ROAD THERE IS


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I’ve written in the past that sanity and gratitude are both choices, at least for most of us. In the long run, taking the big view, none of the problems we encounter matter too much. Of course, it’s easier to take that perspective when things seem to be going your way.

Ever since my heart attack and subsequent angioplasty, I’ve been largely confined to my room. Fortunately, here I have a computer, a piano, and a television which receives two channels in English, one of which keeps playing the same movie over and over again for a week at a time, and the other a French English language news service. Al Jazeera, BBC and CNN are still banned by the military, who are very much I charge. I could criticize them openly, post such opinions on Facebook and then wait for the knock on my door, or I could just shut up and mind my own business. More and more that seems like the best option.

If the Generals want my advice, they know where to find me. To the Thais, all of us European/American/Australian men look the same. I know, because I went to a government office to get my proof of residence form, and the man in charge had to search through a stack of them looking for mine. Each form had an I.D. picture stapled at the top, and to him we all looked alike. White men in their sixties, wearing glasses.

But in my mind I’m the center of attention around here. After all, I’m the old guy who limps around, his groin still swollen with hematoma from the blood thinners they administered (rat poison, really) to dissolve a clot they discovered when they went in to insert the stent. I’m sure all the massage girls in town are in mourning and miss my business, but don’t worry ladies, I will recover and be back lying at your feet again in no time.

Chiang Mai is surrounded by mountains, and the lure of winding mountains roads and misty forest scenery are powerful incentives for me to heal enough to mount my trusty scooter once more. I want to survive so I can have some more adventures. I also want to finally learn the piano pieces I’m working on, a couple of Handel pieces, a Chopin nocturne, a Satie Gymnopadie.

So compared to being dead, I guess my problems today are miniscule, and I can once more take my own advice and choose to be grateful, for that is the only road to sanity.