7A Tasks of Life

November 24, 2007

The story of my aunt Henriette is not fiction. It is ongoing in real time. I don’t know how it will turn out. I will keep you posted on what is happening. Based on how things have gone so far, I am not very optimistic.

In the meantime, I am contemplating what I consider the five tasks of life and how they have affected me and (though it’s a little presumptuous on my part), David Rochester.

The five tasks of life are:

  • Journeying from being a child to being an adult
  • Being a life partner
  • Being a parent
  • Making a living
  • Journeying through the end of our life

Not everybody engages in all of these tasks. The first and last are required, though some people never really become adults. Some don’t survive the journey. Some just become large children.

Not everybody gets a life partner (what is often called a “romantic partner”). Some get many and never establish a successful relationship with one in particular. My father in law was married five times. (My wife’s mother was his first wife.) His fifth marriage turned out fairly successfully, though in the last year of their lives their lives and relationship unraveled.

Today my wife and I celebrate our 42nd wedding anniversary. We will go out tonight to a restaurant (where we have never eaten before) on the island where we live.

Some people do not become parents. Sometimes they are unable to bear children. Some adopt children. My daughter can’t bear children. She has adopted her partner’s daughter and become a co-mom. She is taking great delight in the experience. It pleases me to see her happiness in this regard. Some people choose not to become parents. Sometimes they create children but are separated from them. I worked with a person once who told me that he had fathered a child, but the mother had moved to Alaska before it was born and he had never had any contact with the child.

When I was a small child, my aunt Rose, who could not herself bear children herself, took me in for a year. It’s quite possible she saved my sanity. When my daughter was a little girl she had two unrelated “aunts” who could not bear children but who were a marvelous influence on our child. Our granddaughter has at least one marvelous “aunt” as well. Her sperm donor plays a role like an uncle in her life.

Some of us make a very good living, though many of us are very unhappy in our careers. Some people do good work (in various senses) with or without making much money at it. Some spend their lives doing one career task; others move from one job to another throughout most of their lives. Some are born with a silver spoon in their mouths; some live as bums or derelicts.

Although I have been married for 42 years, and I seem to have a pretty relationship with my daughter, I have never had a “good” job. I figure two out of three ain’t bad. For that matter, I have never been a very “good” employee. Superficially, my current job looks like a good job, but at the moment, it’s a bad mess. I have about a year or so go to retirement, but I don’t know if I will make it that far.

I don’t know if there is such a thing as a “good death,” though probably some people live too long. Some people believe that humans have a soul that lives after death. I do not find that belief convincing or persuasive. When I was in my forties, I thought I would die soon of a heart attack. I actually had some mild panic attacks. I think this was a combination of knowing my father had died young of a heart attack. In part it was a reaction—I’m not sure what to call it—to my father dying a day after we had a fight where I had stood up to him for the first time in my life. In part it was because some blood pressure medication I was taking at the time had some unfortunate side effects.

In January, I will turn 64. I am quite surprised I lived that long. I can think of lots of things to complain about (and do frequently) but my life has turned out much better than I expected or had any right to expect.

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7 Responses to “7A Tasks of Life”

  1. renaissanceguy Says:

    Thanks for sharing your life with us. In some ways it is ordinary, but it is your unique story, which makes it special and important.

    This is a serious question. Can you really, truly conceive of yourself as not existing? I’ve thought long and hard about it, and I just can’t do it. I can’t get a picture or even a feeling in my mind of what that could possibly be. I suppose it could be like being deeply asleep, but we dream then, don’t we?


  2. I haven’t found this to be presumptuous thus far, but I suppose that if there’s a 7B, I might change my mind later.

    In the mean time, Happy Anniversary. 42 years … amazing. Amazing and wonderful, I think. My regards to Mrs. Random, if that doesn’t seem too cheeky.

  3. cheles Says:

    Wow. Congrat’s to you and Mrs.R. Two people sharing 42 years together is such a huge feat in this day and age. I’ve just moved in with Dan and already I’m wondering how long will this last!? Despite how that sounds, I’m not trying to be negative and sabotage the relationship prematurely. I suppose what I really am admitting to myself, is the huge independent streak that more than often, plagues me. I suppose, going with the flow and taking one day at a time is the recipe for success (?).

    Regarding your employment dilemma: my boyfriend Dan has been with the same employer for 27 years now. From what he tells me, the company is managed very poorly. This has caused Dan (and many other employees) to become disheartened knowing that he has 8 years more to go until he reaches 55 and early retirement. He too, is unsure if he’ll make it that far and is tempted to find work elsewhere. I know that I cannot see myself in the same career 20 years down the line and this knowing is something that I constantly mull over almost every day.

    The possibility of human souls living after death is a statement too vague for me. This comment brings up many questions in my mind: Do souls live after death in the form of another entity or sentient being? Do souls live after death as pure energy? Do souls live on in a human like form in some divine heaven filled with angels and guided by a great god? Or do souls live on after death simply as a memory in the hearts and minds of the living? I personally won’t know until my time is up. In the meantime, I am committed to living my life as positively and humanely as possible. My biggest complaint regarding religion are the scars they create in the form of guilt. I have formed great resentment over this fact.

    I feel that the possibility of a “good death” is determined by our state of mind. If we approach death negatively, we will then receive what we reflect.

    Your birthday is coming up. This makes you a Capricorn does it not??? What a crazy question. Well I for one, am glad to see you still hanging around. Even though I don’t comment very often, your not-so-serious posts & comments frequently make me chuckle and leave a smile on my face.

  4. Average Jane Says:

    You seem to have done pretty well, Mr.Random, if I may say so.

    Yes, there are “good deaths” so to speak and some people live too long.. I feel so but then again who are we to decide that?

    Ah, we share a birthday in January. And my congratulations to both and Mrs. Random on your upcoming anniversary. I hope you are planning to give her something nice..some lye perhaps?

  5. modestypress Says:

    Renaissance Guy,

    Like you, I can’t really conceive of myself not existing, but as I get older, it is getting a little easier for me.

    David,

    We’ll see, in both regards.

    Cheles,

    All your comments in your comment are interesting and valuable to me. The only response I will write here is a trivial one: I am an Aquarius. One of the traits of Aquarians is that we do not believe in astrology. My wife is a Pisces. A web site on such things says, “In spite of that, a fishy female can do quite well with an aquarian man, especially if her Venus in airy aquarius. But she may still be too saucy and spicy for her mate’s taste.It could be a bit of a heartbreaker the other way round,though.”

    Jane,

    My wife gave herself something nice. She admires it every day. I admired it also, though not very skillfully. Once corrected though, I am beginning to admire it more skill.

  6. modestypress Says:

    “with more skill.” I may explain my cryptic reply in a post, later.

  7. cheles Says:

    *Laughing* I loved your comment. I don’t follow astrology either- Its definitely overrated thats for sure.


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