Wednesday, June 10, 2015

My Future

Today is my 63rd birthday and in The New York Times there are three obituaries that remind me how short my days are now. 

One has the death of Hermann Zapf, designer of 200 typefaces, including ZapfDingbats (see below), which I use in my work (sparingly). He died at the remarkable age of 96.

Zapf Dingbats sample.tiff
Zapf's dingbats

A second obit announces the death of the man who prosecuted cult-leader and assassin Charles Manson, and later became a crime writer, Vincent Bugliosi. He was 80.

A third is the less-well-known Vincent Musetto, a retired New York Post headline writer, one who was best remembered for HEADLESS BODY IN TOPLESS BAR. The story was of a grisly crime on April 13, 1983, involving decapitation. Musetto died at 74.

If I follow far less famously in their footsteps, I can expect to live 11, 17 or, less likely, 33 more years.

All of which brings me to a gospel passage pointed out to me recently. It contains what in earlier stages of life I might not have considered a remarkable pearl of wisdom, but today, thinking of life and death as proximate things, it does.

The evangelist John puts in the risen Jesus' mouth the following words, addressed to the apostle Peter:
Truly, truly, I say to you, when you were young, you girded yourself and walked where you would; but when you are old, you will stretch out your hands, and another will gird you and carry you where you do not wish to go. (John 21:18)
I already experience hearing loss and my eyes require more help from my glasses than they used to in the past. Someone this weekend reminded me that in retirement I may be less mobile than I am now. Then, toward the end, a hand will take me further where I have no desire to go, because I can't imagine it. Living is all I know.

I am comforted, I don't quite know why, just knowing that this is all in the natural order of things. It need not involve decapitation, nor adversary action in the legal system nor require of me a lasting burst of graphic creativity. I will just be carried there.

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