Negotiating Life's End: an Expression of Gratitude for My Friends and Readers
(image from Thunderbow Expeditions)
Though my posts about my father's illness and imminent death may seem "off topic," as the poem below reminds us, we are all heading toward this particular destination.
This recognition helps give perspective to all of our negotiations -- with our families, ourselves, our workplace, our churches and mosques and synagogues, our commercial actitivies and our local, state, national and international political affairs.
This particular life passage -- so close at hand -- is revelatory for the work I do because it touches on the true bottom line of every negotiation with our fellows -- honorable relationship; gratitude for community; the necessity for compassion; the expression of empathy; the willingness to forgive; and, the miracle of reconciliation.
Before sharing with you the poem written by my good friend Joe Mockus, I want to share two things with you.
First, the lessons my dad taught me rafting rivers from Costa Rica to Idaho -- keep your oar in the water ("for balance") and paddle through your fear.
Second, my gratitude for everyone who has written to express sympathy. You don't know how much it means to me to have my readers "come to life" in the way that so many of you have.
That said, here is a poem by one of my oldest and dearest friends -- whose own father is struggling with end-of-life issues himself. Attorney, poet, rock 'n roll musician, dad, husband and friend Joe Mockus taught me more about how to read -- I mean really read -- than any one of our professors at U.C.San Diego where, for a time, we were both pursuing our undergraduate degrees in literature.
This is the answer, by the way, to the question -- "what's the use of a liberal arts degree?"
Thank you Joe for writing this; for sending it; and for making this time in my own life not simply bearable, but beautiful as well.
The primary activity is avoiding
Obstacles– rotting logs, mostly
Rocks. Rowing backwards
Against the flow. Slowing
The raft while the water
Moves fast. Picking the right
Spot and letting go
When the water turns white. Then
Near the end, finally pushing
Forward in the slack
Toward that beach
Where we all land