©2021 by Vernon Miles Kerr, VernonMilesKerr.com
Attending a school reunion at my age (near 80) is an emotional rollercoaster. There’s the joy of reconnecting with old friends, the furious schedule of dinners, golf tournaments and nostalgic chats. But then, nostalgia turns to mourning as you share news of the latest dearly-departed. I just returned from our 60th High School reunion. The cohort has continued to dwindle—more than a few have left us since we last met, at our 55th.
Getting “old” means one has to come to terms with how truly brief our lives are. Contemplating one’s death, others’ deaths and going to funerals becomes a more everpresent part of life.
For all of us at that reunion, the Black Wall through which we cannot see is disturbingly close. Living what’s left of our time on Earth—gracefully—requires some philosophical thinking. What if our conscious-life ends, absolutely ends, at death? All those years of education, experience, the building of skills, our interacting with other humans, GONE—in a flash—leaving only a dissipating vapor-trail of writings, recordings, and transitory memories in the minds of friends and family.
Even those blessed with a firm faith in the hereafter, even a strong religious one, must have seeds of doubt. Even they must come to terms with the possibility of human consciousness being finite. Given that possibility, shoring up our legacy, in the consciousness that continues in the minds of others, becomes a high priority. The ritual of seeking forgiveness, reconnecting with the neglected or rejected, and repaying debts, both financial and social comes to the front burner. What goes to the back is politics.