Some people are surely meant to be in our lives, but not necessarily to be in them for a lifetime. I think of course of those people in my own life who came and went on in death before I would’ve liked. My spouse left three children whose ages were 23, 14 and 9. I can scarcely imagine their own individual experiences with this loss. My own mother left me when I was 43. She smoked for 3/4 of her life and had physical ailments, so I was not entirely surprised by her death but I was ill prepared for all the moments I would miss her to this day. On the subject of death…
Actor George Frederick Cooke, who was born in London, died in 1812. One would think he stopped acting at this stage but in fact part of him continued to act on stage—-his very skull. His skull was used in productions of Hamlet before being given to the Thomas Jefferson University Medical School Library in Philadelphia.
Have you ever heard of “Joy Leaflet?” Probably not. But Joy Leaflet is the only greyhound ever to win a race; while being quite deceased. Poor thing literally ran its heart out on the track, which is a sad thing. In 1930, this dog won a London dog race, despite being dead. Apparently it dropped dead just before the finish line that fateful September day; and had been going so fast that the momentum carried him over the finish line, beating his opponent. The judges had no choice but to declare him the winner.
There are people like my late spouse, my mother, the actor whose skull remained onstage, and even Joy the greyhound who come into our lives briefly or for some lengthy time; or in the case of the latter two-have come into my world only through the written word.
But as I said in my opening paragraph, they are all meant to have reached me. Sometimes I wonder why I was dejected, or let down by a loved one, I wonder why I have to be the target of a suffering person’s wrath. But then I think what if…
What if I was the one meant to come into their lives… I don’t have a self grandiose opinion of myself; in fact I keep much to myself yet I never stop wondering why terrible things happen to so many good people or why abject poverty seems such a contradiction to wealth. Why, it seems the two classes never even glimpse the other populous and go through lives without truly knowing the other’s existence. The day I stop questioning such things is the day I die inside.
Unlike trees, human beings don’t have to stay rooted where they are birthed. Bengali poet Rabindranath Tagore says of trees, “Trees are the earth’s endless effort to speak to the listening heaven.” this is true of people too.
It is in the company of nature; mountains, ravines, fields, bogs, woods and streams that humankind is truly hopeful, insightful and capable of the most deep thoughts. We could not progress without it, nor would we be sustained emotionally, spiritually and mentally. I look to the earth for my peace when human failings sadden me to the core.
Even my most negative experiences I’ve had (with people) I can look back on with having gained a wisdom I did not know I was absorbing as I endured it. Adversity builds backbone, yes, but to be entirely reactive without being proactive and also kind is to have a strong backbone with cement in one’s legs and mind.
It is so easy for young women today to forget that once they could not speak in public, vote, or own property. it’s easy to forget how enslaved we once were, being our husband’s property and if the marriage should end, the husband got the children because they were his property too. If a woman inherited property it was her husband’s not hers, and so forth. I say: never take the rights we have for granted. I urge you to read “Marmee and Louisa”, the story of Louisa May Alcott and her beloved put-upon mother for more of these realities.
Too many the world over do not have basic rights. Just as sure as the earth never gives up its gold easily, some people never do right and so many remain judgmental against people who are a different social ‘class’, color, sex or intellect of themselves. As chaotic Autumn can attest, diversity makes for a beautiful landscape.
“Sometimes the questions are complicated and the answers are simple.”
If there is someone who know who took the picture of the greyhound, I would like to give proper credit
Author of Under the Banana Moon