I don’t have much to say on taxes. I just put them in the blog title knowing that had I titled the blog, Death, my view counter would have stayed in the single digits.
Give me a chance. I’m taking on death on this Sunday morning and I promise to try to keep it light,well, as light as I can given the topic.
I teach high school. I’m fifty-six years old and I teach mostly 15-17 year olds. Odds are that most will outlive me. I tell them that. I say, “Young people, in 40 years I’m going to be about a pound and a half of ashes stored somewhere in a cedar box. You all will be my age, so for god sake, learn how to punctuate. It matters!
They respond, “ Oh Polley. Don’t say that. You’ll be fine. We’ll be kick’n it.”
Polley: “On the off chance that I live to be 96, the only thing I’ll be kickn’ is the other poor wheelchaired soul in my way to the chow line at the old folks home. BTW, don’t say ‘old folks home.’ It’s not appropriate.”
If I’m lucky-and I improve my self-care- I’ve got another third of my life in front of me. Here’s a few factors that might reduce that possibility: I ride a motorcycle. However,I wear my protective gear. I don’t do wheelies or jump things, and I’m pretty careful as is my moto crew.
Teaching is stressful,but it’s not the kind of stressful that kills people. Besides, I’m always thinking about how to transition into something else that would be less burdensome. I love teaching those kids. I just don’t like working. I suppose that the new zero tolerance policy for cellphones-which I support- could do me in, but I have some ideas about how to replace digital addiction with poetry, art, and writing. On second thought, I think it best to start picking my funeral music. Of course, some alienated white male teenager with an automatic rifle could cut my days short, but our government is so intent on eliminating that possibility, that I needn’t worry about that. Still I’ll keep my classroom door closed, you know, just in case.
I had colon cancer at 38.I was in Panama. I knew I was screwed when the Spanish-speaking gastroenterologist filling my bowels with radioactive Pepto Bismal and oxygen, stopped flirting with his tall, buxom assistant and asked me, “Cuantos anos tiene usted?” (How old are you?). I pretty much knew at that point that he had found something that didn’t belong given relatively young age gave him.
So, there are somethings not in my favor. But there are plenty of things that are. I’m relatively healthy. I’ve good a good doctor. I have medical insurance. I have a ManCave. I have good friends and family. I’ve gotten through a few difficulties in my life. I may get a full ride out of this body after all.
But I’m not getting out alive.
And that sucks. It sucks because despite my inclination to the doldrums and frustration with the lack of capitalization among adolescents, I dig this existence and there’s a shitton of things I want to do. I fear I’m going to run out of breath before I clear my bucket list. Actually, the only thing I have on the bucket list is my intention of playing guitar in some hole-in-the-wall in Spain.
I want to do a lot more writing. I want to have a thriving language school. I want to finish my studio.I want to fly on Air Force One-either as the Commander-in-Chief or a guest passenger. The latter is more likely. I want to finish my memoir, MISTER. I want to finish my Sierra Trilogy. I want to get interviewed on NPR. I want to lead a non-violent revolution in this country that helps the country not implode and take the rest of the world with it. I want to receive some retirement checks. I want to receive some royalty checks. I want to learn to pick the guitar and not just play chords. I want to make love to J. Lo, Shakira, and Julia Roberts, but not at the same time and only if doing so would not violate my marriage covenant. My wife pretty much supports all of the above except the obvious. Dear Goddess Trinity, we will have to just be friends unless my circumstances change.
Hold on. This blog isn’t about death. This blog is about life. Yay! So, I have some things to live for. I suppose that there are more noble pursuits to keep me afloat, like the continued care and support of my amazing daughter,helping her to negotiate her fledgling life. I also want to continue to honor,love, and support my immensely talented wife who is a musical revolutionary and can’t be stopped. The three women I mention above, as talented and as beautiful as they are, don’t have my heart and soul. She does.
Whenever death comes for me-and I hope it takes its time-I’d like to look back on a full life, a life that I didn’t give up on but one that I wrestled with, one that I fought with;one with which I negotiated. I know the terms of the arrangement and I know how this ends. What I don’t know is how it continues; what is next.
Wait. I know what is next: breakfast with a good buddy, some time to talk motorcycles and other passions; some mutual support. A moment to share this journey we call life; to appreciate it, to value it as we all value a fine meal, knowing that even as we partake and fill ourselves, the meal will end. May we thank the server, sign the check, and walkaway from the table satisfied and content.