Impermanence: Lived or Unlived Life?

Author Violet Weingarten, in her book “Intimations of Mortality,” tells of a woman who kept a personal journal. After facing a diagnosis of terminal cancer, the 59-year-old woman reflects:

“You feel a loss of options. The Greek you were going to study someday, the lover you might take, the house you would have by the sea, the children whose children you looked forward to, the finally successful definitive book you were going to write - it was all fantasy maybe (or maybe not), and any or all might still happen; but everything seems less likely. Life is no longer open ended.”

When I was younger, I used to work for a city local newspaper. In one of the articles I wrote, “Impermanence,”  I expressed about my own struggles after “things end.”

Even when I was a healthy youth then, I still felt cheated when losses or mishaps interfere with my strivings. And now, when I’ve become old, I know there would again be that sort of feeling in my life experience.

To varying degrees, the struggle with “impermanence” is everyone’s plight. Our time is finite, limited.

And if the struggle gets unresolved within us, someday we die without ever once knowing what life (temporary though it may be) is really about.

Since over 10 years ago, I’ve been given the opportunity and freedom enough  to order my inner life for the rest of my days as I would wish it to be till I fly away.

It’s comprised of “authoring life” on the page and the life of others I help heal. It likewise allows me time for reading and writing - activities I most value and that make me most alive.

The occupation makes me feel immortal. Permanent. It brings me something like happiness in an earth where time is not open ended.

Writer Wendy Lustbader explains this in a genius way, “To fulfill our promises to ourselves is to prepare to die;  tragedy is to die with unlived life still inside us.”

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