Saturday, June 7, 2014

Tony Bertauski

One is too many, a thousand not enough.

This quote is usually reserved for AA meetings, but not necessarily exclusive to booze. As humans, we all want something, whether it’s another cigarette, a larger slice of pie or our children home safe. Naturally, we want to feel to feel good. It’s built into our instinct, our sense of survival. Written somewhere on our DNA is the need for a happy ending, that when this is all over the narrator of our life will announce in classic Disney tone, “And they lived happily ever after.”

Dystopia reveals the light of our lives by walking through the dark. It explores the true nature of our predicaments, the tragic adventure of the human experience. At times, it shows how dark we can become. How brilliant we are.

But no story really ends. It simply transitions into another. One ending begets another beginning. When we look back on our lives, those catastrophes that seemed like mountains are merely anthills that made us tougher; those eye-high hurdles made us stronger. We loved deeply and fought valiantly. If we’re lucky, we achieved our dreams: our children are safe, our grandchildren are healthy and our vast wealth, the proof our successes, the currency of our value, is inexhaustible. Happily ever after.

But when the time comes, when our ending nears, will we let go so easily?

We’ve worked so hard to become who we are, to build our castles and protect our young. Is it not unfair to walk away from what is rightfully ours? Especially when so many people in this world waste their lives, those moments that now—lying on our last bed counting our remaining breaths—seem priceless. It seems ludicrous—from our old, decrepit vantage point—that anything should die.

But death is our ending. Happily or not, it comes. It is part of life, we say, but those words leave our lips much easier before we’re sucking our numbered breaths, when we’re clinging to our last moments. Those moments that seemed endless and inexhaustible slip away as we draw our last breath. When the last one arrives, will we grasp at it, or let it go freely?

Is one too many, and a thousand not enough?


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