Tests of Mortality

We are immortal, we are not immortal. No truer thing can ever be said. It seems at first impossible, two statements that are completely opposite. It is all contingent upon the word “we”.

“We”, generally refers to our physical bodies, an ever changing pile of flesh and bone. It is said that at least every seven years it is completely different, all cells have been replaced by… “replacements.” Therein lies the problem, the replacements are not necessarily “first string.” In other words, the replacements are like the players in a late quarter football game, when the score has already determined the game.

So, here I am, with several generations of “second string” replacement cells, trying to win, or at least, tie the game. No wonder I am not immortal.

More importantly, one can define “we” as the immortal spirit, created by God, completely incorruptible and destined for eternity. I am so convinced by this that I have no concerns and no worries. However, I don’t completely live there. I know it, but I am drawn back to the dilemma of my “second string” replacement cells.

I suppose it starts with stewardship. The immortal “we” is given custody of the mortal “we”. We are to care for the body, feed it, keep it safe, and to instruct it in the best way that we can in the Plan that has been created for us all.

How are we doing in that?

Lately I have been reviewing some events in my life where I haven’t been the best steward of my mortal presence. In others words, my life should have ended, like some Darwinian consequence, but instead, I have lived on.

This is certainly not a complete list, but here are some highlights…

1. At the age of eight I was fascinated with matches. Book matches, kitchen matches, long fireplace matches. I loved them all! Not that I loved the fire they created, it was the magic of combustion that fascinated me. Anyway, because of television or movies, I spent one afternoon trying to toss a lit match into the gas pipe of my father’s 1958 Chevy, two-toned, Bel Air, station wagon. I was obviously unsuccessful.

2. At 13, a couple of my friends and I discovered that the local pharmacy was willing to sell the ingredients that combine to make gunpowder. Against all odds, we did not blow our selves up. However, we did make a deadly “grenade” out of a used CO2 filled with ground sparkler dust made from hammering the common July4th firework. The galvanized garbage can that we tested it in was never the same.

3. At nineteen there was a “shooting” accident involving a Western gunslinger holster and a Ruger .22, single action revolver. The end result was a clumsy fast draw, and a bullet in my leg that still remains. While this is not life threatening, I was also shooting my father’s .357 magnum. That revolver would have penetrated my leg, shattered my thigh bone, severed my femoral artery, penetrated my other leg, breaking that bone and destroying that femoral artery. It would have been less than a minute to bleed out.

4. Of course, then there were several years hitchhiking the Western States. Not a particularly safe activity.

5. During this hitch hiking era there was a time that my friend and I took a day hike towards the middle Teton of the Grand Tetons. Some four hours later we were 3/4s of the way up the mountain, following a crevasse. We were hiking with no ropes, no safety gear, and I was wearing sandals. That should have not ended well.

6. And then there was the military. Too many incidents to mention.

7. At the age of 27 I finally experienced an event that was not my fault. At construction pickup truck broke free of it’s brakes, rolled down the hill, smashed through the barricade, then landed about a foot in front of me on the road below. The truck came down like some Acme safe in a Roadrunner/WileyCoyote cartoon. And there was all the redwood 8×8 that we’re flying through the air. Not a scratch on me, although it led to the ending of my marriage. Another story.

8. At 30 I was backpacking in the Sierras when I came upon a small stream to cross. It was a familiar trail to me, and I usually just boulder hopped across. This time it was too early in the season and was a raging torrent three or four times the normal width. Instead of heading upriver to look for a better crossing I simply forged ahead. Unfortunately my wife was along, and I endangered both of us with my actions. I crossed several times carrying our backpacks, then roped my wife to my back while I crabbed sideways across the white water that was sometimes up to my neck. Nearly a case of hypothermia. It ended up being a great week in the mountains.

I just have to stop now. I’m suffering from PTSD.

Let’s just say that I have an obligation to be a better steward in the last half of my life. The first half was a disaster.

About johndiestler

Retired community college professor of graphic design, multimedia and photography, and chair of the fine arts and media department.
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