Cheney Free Press -

By John McCallum

Tis (always) the season to remember the fragility of life

Write to the Point


This is my last column in 2012, Crunch Time not withstanding.

In fact, it might be my last column ever at the Cheney Free Press, or my last column period. One never knows about these things, what trials, challenges or opportunities the future holds. Despite all our plans and pretexts, the future is uncertain.

We think we know what it holds, but really, we don’t. The future comes unannounced and sometimes unprepared for, even if we do our best to anticipate and plan.

It’s kind of like the passage in Charles Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol” where Marley’s Ghost explains to Ebenezer Scrooge that he will be visited by three sprits. The Ghost of Christmas Past at one o’clock, the Ghost of Christmas Present at two and the third, the Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come, “more mercurial” in his own good time.

I know many of us believe we can and are planning for the future, even unforeseen events, but in the end, the future always brings the unexpected. It seems to me that acknowledging and understanding what this means to us and others would make us want to live every moment like it was not only our last, but possibly the last for others as well, and by doing that, be a positive, nurturing, kind force for good.

And yet, it seems like we are always angry. It feels like a lot of us are always singing that “somebody done, somebody wrong song.”

We’re sometimes too easily offended by others actions, words and views. We get upset over matters like getting cut off in traffic, or someone wishing us a Happy Holidays instead of Merry Christmas.

We grumble and we grouse about this, that and the other thing, sometimes incessantly. We assume others will always be around, and maybe tomorrow I’ll let a friend, a coworker or a family member know how much I really appreciate and value them as a human being.

We miss the opportunity to see people in their true, good nature because we may be focused on their political or religious beliefs or a perceived work or social issue.

This isn’t something I’ve started thinking about recently. It’s been rattling around for a while, at least since 2008 when a long-time friend was found dead outside his apartment one June morning. He had gotten too drunk, something I always meant to talk to him about, locked himself out of his apartment, passed out and died from exposure.

It was brought home again this past summer when two people I considered friends, one from my high school days and another more recent, left this world too soon and unfortunately by their own hand. I keep asking myself what ifs. What if I had rekindled a relationship with a long ago buddy, what if I had been more active in turning a recent friendly acquaintance into something more.

Who knows? I am thankful though that a college buddy has reconnected with me and that we are in the process of re-establishing a great friendship. But he has an affliction that will in all likelihood limit his days and maybe take him too early – only the mercurial future knows when.

Sorry to be so morbid, but I feel these feelings magnified by the shootings in Newtown, Conn. Our existence is fragile, balanced on the edge of fate’s knife, yet so essential to the makings of a better world that it’s almost a crime that we would let earthly and material things distract us from pursuing the greater good.

So if anything in this season of seasons of renewal and remembrance, I would wish us to live life well all year long, live it with kind thoughts and actions that bring respect and value to yours and others time on this planet.

And if someone wishes you a “Happy Holidays” when you wanted a “Merry Christmas,” smile and say “Peace be with you.”

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