Posted in Other Stuff

Life is Full of Stuff

My family is experiencing a strange juxtaposition of momentous events. One Saturday, we celebrated the wedding of one of my great-nieces. The next Saturday, another of my great-nieces was killed in a car crash.

One event was a long-anticipated day filled with joy, beauty and laughter. Then, exactly one week later, an utterly-unanticipated day of shock, horror and grief. As has often been said, by people much wiser than I, “life is full of stuff.”

Happiness and pain are equally inescapable — a truth that is wonderful or terrible, depending which side of the line you happen to be walking at the moment. We will experience both, as surely as the sun rises and the rain falls. Perhaps it’s best not to know which we will experience more often, or how deeply.

While we are here, we think of young death as tragic. Most of us hope to live a long life. But in the grand scheme of things, whether we live a single day or a hundred years, it’s a flash of time so tiny that the difference between the two is hardly worth noting. All death is tragic. Or no death is tragic. All we can do is live the span we are given, and ride the waves of love and loss as they roll by.

From the instant sperm meets egg, we are hurtling toward death. Nothing is as certain to kill you as life. So if you’d rather not die, please refrain from being born. In fact, C.S. Lewis has theorized that death, not life, may be the Big Thing. Perhaps life’s true importance is that it is a prerequisite for death. You can’t get there through any other door; you have to live in order to die.

I suppose we shall see, one way or the other. Meanwhile, if there’s joy in Ojai and grief in Temecula, it’s best to remember that the distance between the two isn’t really very far.

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Posted in Other Stuff

Just Say No

Here’s a temptation you (probably) don’t encounter every day: the temptation to have your picture taken with a movie star. At the time this particular temptation presents itself, it does not seem like a temptation. It seems like a no-brainer. Of course you want your picture taken with the movie star! I mean, hey, how cool is that? You’ve not only met a movie star, but said movie star has actually conversed with you – at least to the extent that you have said, “Um, can I take your picture?” and the movie star has responded in the affirmative.

You are about to experience a rude awakening.

This seemingly-harmless encounter – and the pleased realization that you have your camera with you – is a trap. Do not fall into this trap. Resist the temptation to have your picture taken with that movie star.

You think you are going to want the picture, to prove to people that you met the movie star. You toy with the idea of blowing it up and framing it. You are quite certain that you want to post it on Facebook, probably with a jocular caption containing the term “BFF.” Until, that is, you see the picture … and hear the echo of Lucifer and all his imps having a good laugh at your expense.

See, here’s the deal. You were surprised to discover that the movie star looked just like a regular person, weren’t you? But this, my friend, is an illusion. Movie stars look like regular people when viewed through the human eye. Through a camera lens, they look like movie stars.

And here’s the cruel truth: in your no-longer-so-cherished photograph, the movie star still looks like a normal human being. It is you, Gentle Reader, who appears far from normal. Standing next to a movie star, you look like the unnatural offspring of Freddy Krueger and The Blob.

You will stare at the photograph in horror and disbelief. You will cringe. You may weep. But one thing you will never do is show that photograph to another human soul. Your near and dear are going to have to take your word for it that you met the movie star. Sad but true.

Consider yourself warned.