A friend of mine is currently fighting cancer. There is nothing quite like the visitation of cellular anarchy upon a friend or relation to initiate a mood of melancholy contemplation. Such has been happening all too often of late. I understand that losing friends and family is to be expected once one has entered into middle-age, but still, one begins to wonder and entertain strange, dark notions. Perhaps they are only projections born of the fear of being faced yet again with the truth of one's own mortality, but in the small hours of the night I wonder.
A few months ago I saw a small item in the news to the effect that the average lifespan of the American male had actually dropped by a month or so in the latest set of actuarial tables or whatever it is they derive such things from. The article was quick to postulate several causes after noting first that the change was within the margin of statistical deviation. It was probably simply a side effect of the recession as fewer people were able to afford quite as much health care, combined with more people making "quality of life" choices over an extra month or two of pain.
Perhaps this is true, but lately I have begun to wonder if at long last the sheer overwhelming mass of crap dumped into our air, and our water, and the shoddy substitute that passes for food that we settle for out of expediency or habit has passed the ability of our medical technology to sustain us.
Yes, I am aware that smoking causes lung cancer, but since nearly all metastatic cancer eventually spreads to the lungs before it kills, how much of the work of industrial pollution and allegedly edible food additives is being written off to smoking?
Is this the thin end of the wedge? All I know for certain is that ten years ago I could see the Sierra Nevada Mountains from my window all year long, except for a few weeks in July and August when the inversion layer set up...and of course when it was overcast. Now I can only see them for a few days after it rains.
Maybe it is time we made another sort of "quality of life" decision, not about what should be done to keep us alive when we are gravely ill, but how much we are willing to allow our bodies to be poisoned for the sake of expediency and ready access to cheap toys.
Think upon it for a few moments if you will. While you are thinking consider this also: Take a moment to tell a friend or a loved one all of the kind things that we wait too damn long to say. The reason for half the tears shed at a funeral are words left unsaid too long. Trust me on this one. It will make both of you happier once you get past that awkward reluctant moment.
We must honor while we can
The vertical man
Though we value none
But the horizontal one.
Be seeing you.