Written by LA Jamison
I know this post will be melonchaly and a bit too depressing for some, but I'm okay talking about certain unpleasant realities. A close friend of my Uncle Lou's just passed away whom I knew as a child. It has been quite a year of people passing for many folks that I know.
I remember when I was younger and this older lady I worked for said to me, "Wait till you get older! You lose more people more quickly. They drop like flies and your circle shrinks!" At the time, I thought that was a gloomy thing to say. In truth, it is not the best encouragement to a young person. It really doesn't even register much when you are younger. Yet, as gloomy as the statement was, she wasn't wrong. So, without further adeu...
Greetings, I am your captain and let me be your guide on what has happened and is happening onboard your Life Cruise. First, let me apologize for the inconvenience of your impending death but we all have to face it. Apparently, it all comes with the ticket. I didn't design this or even the ship. I just work here.
Welcome to a deeper sense of reality about your mortality. The older you get the more you will realize that you have been riding the Titanic of whatever generation you rode in on. But there is no need to be depressed. It is still a marvelous, huge ship we got here, with fab views and opportunities to do and see whatever you want to! You are starting off as Jack and Rose in a naive, romantic state, oblivious that you are on a ship with a big hole in it--because it's on the bottom deck, way out of sight and everything is going on as normal. When it first starts to dawn on you that this is a sinking ship, that this is more Titanic than Viking Cruise, don't fret. You really don't need to. You are still Jack and Rose. Now, though the ship has went quite vertical, as Jack and Rose, you are put at the top of the ship standing on the extreme Aft, the Rear Stern, which is sticking out of the water. Good news: the ship it isn't going down. At least not yet! You got plenty of time.
Now you will see the people below you tumbling off but you don't really know them or maybe you lose a few close people, but you are still safe up on the top with several folks with you. It is good for you to enjoy those that you know and love and keep those relationships healthy by enacting good communication and forgiveness. At this point, as Jack and Rose, you are making plans for the future to jump off this doomed ship and how best you can draw out your time for some kind of rescue. I don't want to discourage you from doing that. It helps bide the time, fosters some kind of hope and who knows what you will discover along the way! So go for it and enjoy your sweet romances!
A third point in the guide comes at another life change. The older you get, you are no longer Jack and Rose. Sorry, folks! We all lose our position at the top of the ship at some point. There are other Jacks and Roses taking your place as other generations roll in. But, look-ie here; you have dropped down just little and are still at the Rear or Aft. You are no longer standing but holding onto to a deck table or perhaps even managed to sit on a lounge chair just in reverse. No need to fret too much, you are still holding your own, even enjoying the view from way up here. It's too beautiful to think this could be it. I don't blame you.
Then way down the road, many decades later, you are still on deck but find yourself at Midship. It feels like a collision with reality without much warning. Yet, you have had decades. At Midship, you are holding on after having lost your grip on your youth a little, but you are darn sure that won't happen again. You are working hard to reverse or stall the aging process (hopefully in healthy ways, nothing wrong with that!). Now, I hate to break it to you but it is better to know the truth, okay? Many passengers think midship is age 50 because it sounds like the 'mid-way' point in our life spans. This is when people first really pay attention that they are mid-way through their life-span. But, eh hem...brace yourself a little. This may sting. 50 technically really is not the mid-way point because most of us live somewhere between 70's to early 90's IF we are lucky. That makes our real mid-way point probably somewhere in our 40's. Age 50 is a bit past the half-way point for most of us. But since there is no guarentee that you won't make 99 or 109, no need to get into too much gloomy bucket analysis. It is just good to keep in mind that for most people that isn't how things go down. Make the most of life now and don'tassume you have another full 50 to go. Out in the open sea, you just can't predict what may speed you along faster than you planned.
Last comes the front bough. On our journey down deck, there is no telling what tumble will knock us off the ship completely. If you made it this far into your 80's, 90's, 100's, you now have a greater perspective and experienced a lot so you are more at peace with life and this sinking ship you rode in on. You remember when you were younger, on top of the world and feeling sorry for those older folks you saw far beyond you struggling. However, now you are comforted that it is really not so bad here at the front bough. In some ways, it is far better! You value every day more, and smell the sea more. You've reconciled the sense of a betrayal of the idea of eternal youth. There is no longer that fight to get what you can and fight for an identity. You have settled all that for the most part. Now you are able and even strong enough to help others and make an impact on the crew and passengers who are falling by. You are comforted by the fact that the fall into the cold water isn't as far and as dreadful looking as it was when you were at the top. It is no longer miles and several hundreds of bumps, bruises and deep wounds away. It is no longer such a big fall. The water is in plain sight. You've had to face it and made peace with the cold waters, this death, and learned many hard lessons on how to let go on several fronts. This has prepared you for this time in your life. You look up from below to where you were in your younger and even midship years. You can barely see the next Jack and Rose in the distance at the other end standing tall with hope and fear in their eyes about their future.
You really hope they make the best of this life. Even better than you did. You shout to them and hope they hear you. You also hold out hope that the beautiful twinkling stars above and the moonlit waters below might hearken to a mythological prophecy of another world for you here-after. Another dimension, transition, or heaven perchance. For some that hope is more solid than it is for others but where there is faith, hope and love, I don't believe you can really go wrong. At the very, very, very least, it makes the journey into the cold waters seem less final. Should it be a fools hope, it may be the best fools hope around.
Yep, the idea of being on a sinking ship stuck at the front bough, about to tumble off into the cold waters sucks. It's not a pretty comforting notion. Maybe someday the hole in the ship will be patched but for now this is what we got. There is anxiety about this in everyone. Even Jesus is said to had grieved at Lazarus' grave and wept when facing death on the cross. Yet Jesus is considered a "high priest", a "God", a "prophet". If you look at the story Jesus as real or not, it is similar in a way to a lot stories in this regard: he faced an early death (way before midship) and went through it even when he didn't have to because of faith, hope and love. Such characters like that of Jesus did this as sacrifice to save someone else. So while most of us don't choose death, Jesus and others chose it showing us that death can serve a purpose, that our impact matters, and the hope of a realm here after carries with it a strong power that stares down death and makes it lose "thy sting".
You have no power to stop the ship from sinking. It's bigger than you. You might drag out your stay on the ship or survival time in the waters, but eventually you will sink and die like everyone else. Nevertheless, what you can absolutely control is what your faith is in, where your hope is at and how much love you give and receive and that you are connected to it. If you believe in another realm, those three will get you there in a very smooth transition on a spiritual plane. If you don't believe in another realm, those three will still make your stay aboard ship a lot more meaningful and worthwhile. You really can't lose in this sense. That is something to be grateful this holiday season. Ho! Ho! Ho!
Oh by the way, did I tell you the situation about the life boats yet? Mmmmm....better brace yourself...