The Last Time

Anyone who knows me is aware that I have a deep love of coffee. I have a few preferred coffee mugs, and even subscribe to what some might call a “fancy” coffee bean subscription service that sends me a new bag of beans, from a different roaster from around the world, each month. I am the kind of person who goes to bed excited to wake up and enjoy a cup of coffee.

So you can image my distress when I had an unpleasant thought about coffee the other day. Someday, I will drink my last cup of coffee. Now I know for some of you this may not seem like a big deal, but for me it was a very upsetting truth. A truth I could accept but did not like in the slightest. Someday, probably without me even realizing it I will pick up and sip coffee for the very last time.

It’s a hard truth to face sometimes when we ponder our own mortality. To consider that in the grand scheme of things our existence is brief and honestly unremarkable when compared to the vastness of the cosmos. But for me, my existence matters. My love of coffee matters, and to those who know and love me, it matters.

Now, why do I bring up such a depressing and honestly unpleasant subject? Because I want you to understand that someday you won’t be here. Someday you will be gone, and all that will be left behind will be the memories of who you once were. Your loved ones will want to hang on to those memories anyway you can, and we should not make that difficult for them.

Recently a client messaged me asking me if I could restore an old photograph of his father. He explained to me that his father hated the way he looked, and never stood in front of a camera. In fact his father went to great effort to avoid cameras, and/or destroy any pictures that were ever taken of him. Meaning, that his son only had one surviving photo of the man that was his father. Only one.

To say this was a tremendous responsibility was underselling how I felt about the situation, but I was willing to do my best to help this client, and am currently working on the photo now. But it got me thinking…Why do so many of us avoid having our photos taken? We make up excuses after excuse as to why we should not be in pictures, forgetting that someday a photo or home movie might be all someone has left of us.

So the next time someone asks to take your picture, try to remember that someday you will pick up your last cup of coffee, and maybe your loved ones will want a photo of you drinking a beverage that you loved so much.

The one and only image of a father. This is all that remains…

Humanities Extinction

It has been awhile since Hollywood has come out with a really good “end of the world” type movie.  Come to think of it, the last ones I can remember came out when I was still in high school.  Movies like Armageddon, The Day After Tomorrow, and Independence Day come to mind.

I would venture a guess that most human beings don’t think about the end of the world. Like death, I think we all know it will happen someday, but choose not to think about it. A problem for future generations to deal with.

The end may be sooner then you think, and worse it doesn’t look like the end of humanity will come by asteroid, alien invasion, or deadly storm.  The end, it seems, will come at the hands of humanity itself.

6975466-end-of-the-worldIn a recent interview Stephen Hawking theorizes that 1,000 years may be all humanity has left.  He warns that with advances in science & technology bring with it “new ways that things can go wrong.”

I am inclined to believe Hawking, but maybe for different reasons.  Humanity is becoming increasingly distracted to the realities of what is going on around them.  Social media, TV, and cell phones have lowered our attention spans significantly.  Obesity is at an all time high, and our schools and educational systems are eliminating the very things that make life worth living such as music, art, photography, theater, and more.

If humanity was to be wiped out tomorrow how would we want our species to be remembered?  If we only have 1,000 years left we should focus on more important things besides how many Facebook friends we have, or how many “likes” we got on our last Instagram photo.

Life is to be lived, felt, believed, and remembered.  If humanity only has 1,000 years left I hope we make those years ones of great significance and importance.  And I truly hope, before the end, that we can put our differences behind us, and come together as one species united.

Death and Prison

I am not going to go into detail on this subject, but I found out yesterday that someone I know was arrested, and put in prison over the weekend.  Ever since I found out I have been thinking about life, living, peace, happiness, sorrow, and death.

Last night I was journaling some of my thoughts, and without planning to, I started writing a short story.

I laid in my hospital bed.  The air smelled stale with a heavy trace of disinfectant.  I rolled my eyes irritated that my last remaining breaths would sentenced to  breathing in the arid scent of bleach.

No one was in the room with me.  No family, or friends stood by my bedside to comfort me as I crossed over to the other side.  No loving wife who would sit bravely next to me, holding my hand, while she told me she loved me.  I didn’t even have a faithful and loving dog that would lay down at the foot of the bed till it was over.

I was alone.

My life had been a hard one, and time had finally caught up with me.  Dying is something that will come to all of us.  I knew it, you know it, its a fact that none of us can escape.  But none of us think about it.  We put it at the back of our mind, pretend it isn’t there, and make jokes about living forever.

I had known my death was coming months before the diagnosis.  Death had been on my mind for the better part of a year.  I saw it everywhere, and worse yet I felt it.  Like an ever present pressure just behind you, following you.  Death was coming for me, and there was nothing I could do to stop it.

Figures my life would end like this.  Alone.  I didn’t care.  I was ready for life to end, to be over.  Life had not been kind, and I was happy to see it finally come to a close.  And so as I closed my eyes, and took my last breath I bid farewell to life, and hoped whatever lay beyond would be better.

For what seemed like eternity I was in darkness.  I wasn’t standing, sitting or lying down.  I was just there, present and dead.  Don’t ask me how I knew I was dead, but I knew that I had died.  I had no body to feel with, or eyes to see.  I wasn’t even sure I could move, and even less sure if I wanted to.  So I just remained where I was.

Time passed, but seemed to have no meaning on where I was.  I have no idea how long I was there, but eventually I felt a pull.  Not a physical pull, but certainly a powerful one.  Whatever I was, whatever I had become, this pull reverberated down to the core of my very being.  I followed the pull, and eventually saw, or better yet, felt light.  

It grew brighter, and more intense with each passing moment.  I was moving towards it with such speed that I actually felt afraid.  Like I was going to crash into whatever the light was, and splatter my new form into pieces.  But I had no way to stop it.  Whatever was pulling me was in complete control and I was only along for the ride.

My fear grew as I hurtled towards the brilliant white light, until I somehow felt an explosion.  My very essence had seemed to rip through some kind of invisible barrier.  I was surrounded by other presences like my own.  Millions upon millions of them.  I could feel them.  I was connected to them.

That was when I heard the voice.  A deep booming voice that seemed to come from everywhere all around me.  It said “Prisoner 44371.  Your time has been served.  Welcome back.”