Posts Tagged ‘End of times’

Letter From New York August 29, 2011

August 29, 2011

Or, as it seems to me…

Red sky at morning, sailor’s warning…

Saturday morning when I woke up, the sky to the east of Claverack Cottage was painted a pale primrose red and I thought of the sailor’s warning. I had taken the 5:45 train out of Manhattan on Friday, headed north, to batten down the hatches, so to speak, for the storm of the century.

I filled my bathtub with water so I could, if needed, flush the toilets. I took, with the help of young Nick from Hudson, things off the deck and piled them in the shed. Turned over the Adirondack chairs and the heaters so they couldn’t blow over in the wind. Bought bottled water and checked to make sure I had enough batteries for my flashlights and pulled out the emergency suitcase with the wind-up radio. I was as ready as I could be.

It was not quite the storm of the century. New York City made it through pretty unscathed, though a friend told me there were downed trees everywhere. Large parts of New Jersey were under water according to Governor Christie. And we got off easily because it was so bad in North Carolina, according to CNN.

I am at the cottage and not sure when I will get back to New York as the trains aren’t running though things should be better by Wednesday latest.

So there was Hurricane Irene. Earlier in the week there had been an earthquake that rumbled things from North Carolina up to Maine. I was sitting in an Italian restaurant and didn’t feel a thing but most of New York did. In the restaurant, cell phones went off. It started a round of stories at every table of earthquakes experienced, mostly in California.

Jokes abounded toward the end of the week. Earthquake. Hurricane. Michelle Bachman. Rick Perry. Could we not interpret these as portends of the end of times? Probably. Perhaps it is the end of times. Certainly some evangelical Christians are saying these ARE the end of times. The Mayan Calendar ends next year around my birthday and there are those who believe that because the Mayan Calendar goes no further, it means we all will hit the wall.

Me? Well, it could be the end of times. I frankly don’t know. Can’t do much about it if it is the end of times. I am, right now, along for whatever the ride is.

Sometimes I think about that on very rough airplane flights. I’m there. I’m can’t do much about it; I am on for the ride.

But in the meantime, I am caught in the fact I am alive and death has not taken a holiday lately. My friend Chris Doyle, written about last week, is still gone. Another friend, Susan Panisch, once an executive at a network I dealt with, died last week, after the earthquake but before the hurricane. Well one day, diagnosed with lymphoma another, dead in three weeks. Will miss her.

Carolyn Chambers, once my boss, then my friend, gone too. Cancer also. Time takes our friends and colleagues, our relatives, our co-workers. It takes everyone, eventually, including ourselves, who live as if we will live forever even though we really know no one gets out of here alive.

But we do our best to live as fully as we can, at least I hope we do.

Though sometimes we don’t, just because we think we will live forever. I had a conversation with a friend this week; he had asked a favor of me. I told him I was glad to do it. I told him he was a remarkable human being. He was taken aback that I said it but I also felt the beating of the wings of the angel of death and did not want to leave unsaid what we so often leave unsaid, the beauty of the people we know and love.

Take heed of that, fellow travelers. Don’t look at someone’s casket and say: I wish I had told them.

Send flowers while people can still smell them.

Letter From New York, May 21, 2011

May 21, 2011

Or, as it seems to me…

I am crossing the country by train with my friend Nick; outside the window of the compartment are the fields of the great farms of the American Heartland – having moved south from Chicago, west into Iowa, through Nebraska during the night and now across Colorado as I write. The sun is making an effort to come out through the gray overcast. On a stopover in Chicago, the sun blessed the day as we met an Odyssey member, Robert Black, of the Chicago Sunday Evening Club and his Director of Development. We had a lovely lunch and then began the long journey from Chicago to the West Coast aboard Amtrak’s California Zephyr, reputedly one of the two most beautiful rides in America on the train.

It is bucolic and beautiful, peaceful and languorous, as we move along, gently swaying, a soft clacking of the equipment becoming a steady backdrop to the ride. Despite some intrusions of small crises from the office needing to be sorted, it has been extraordinarily pleasant since leaving New York. I’m glad.

Glad that is pleasant because, after all, I am facing, we are all facing the beginning of the end of the world, starting today, the 21st of May, about 6:00 p.m. according to certain Evangelical Christians. They believe that the Rapture [where good Christians get uplifted to heaven while the rest of mankind is left behind to suffer the Apocalypse] begins today and, according the reports I have been reading, anyone still alive but not raptured will be gone by sometime in October.

So, if that’s going to happen, I thought that being on a train, moving through the beauty of the American West, is not a bad place to be. I will do my best to be sipping a very good champagne when 6:00 p.m. rolls around – seems a civilized way to meet the end of times or at least the beginning of the end of times.

Also, if it is the beginning of the end of times and I do survive the initial catastrophe that will be ushering in the end, I am sure I will be far too busy to be doing my normal letter plus who knows if the Internet will still be on line? So I thought I should scurry a bit and get out a letter in advance of this potential end, reach out to all of you who have been kind enough to read my epistles over the years! Been a privilege to write them, sharing my thoughts, quirky though they may sometimes be, with all of you.

I am sanguine right this minute. I don’t think the world is going to end today. It was supposed to have ended several times in my life, once even on the day my father passed away. The same man who is predicting that it will end today, predicted it would end in 1994. When asked about why he was right now when he was wrong then, he announced that previously he had not fully considered the Book of Jeremiah and that was where he had gone astray. I don’t have time now between and the end to study Jeremiah so I won’t be able to venture a guess as to where the good Reverend went wrong.

So here I am, in Denver, momentarily, approximately ten hours from the end of times – or not. As it approaches, and I am sipping my champagne or martini, I will be thinking of all of you. If it is the end, it’s been interesting writing this for almost ten years! Thanks for reading.

And if it is not the end of times, which is more than likely, I’ll be back next week, more thoughts, more adventures, and after I have done some more thinking about what it might mean to be present at the end of times. Until then! Or not…