Tag Archives: Samuel Johnson

Hanged in a Fortnight?

“Depend upon it, sir, when a man knows he is to be hanged in a fortnight, it concentrates his mind wonderfully.”  Samuel Johnson

1950 – it is a great year.  Lorna, our second child, joins our family.  In February all four of us—Sheldon and I, and Ralph and Lorna—are living in our new and cosy trailer.  Life is good, secure, and the future is open before us.  What is this that Johnson is chattering about?  Is he saying that having no options is a good thing?  How could that be?  For us, the world is our oyster and the path ahead presents endless options.

Fast forward to 1952.  Where did the last two years go?  I am only thirty, and already things have changed.  Things are not as simple as I used to think.  We made some big decisions in the past months.  Sheldon decided to accept a promotion.  On the crew he was the Party Chief, and in charge.  Now he is the low man on the totem pole in the exploration field office staff.  Every day seems to bring new opportunities, challenges, and options.  Confusing.  Samuel Johnson, you are at least partially right.  Is life always this way?  There are so many important decisions to be made with so little guidance.

Another jump, a huge one of sixty years.  It is now 2012 and it seems that I have been thrust into a completely new and different phase – OLD AGE.  I am ninety, and Samuel, my friend, you are right.  Suddenly my mind awakens to the fact that there are no live options here.  There are only realities.  I am not in a new phase but at a destination, the final one.  Death will be the next move.    Continue reading


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No Need to Reinvent the Wheel

When one reaches the “aged” phase the temptation is great, and the privilege exists, to revisit life itself – decades and decades of it!  Mankind as far as we now know, is unique among our fellow living creatures, in having a consciousness of self.  We retain memories of the past, anticipate the future, and are acutely aware of our mortality.  With all this come questions: many of them!  Some are profoundly important throughout life, some vary according to our age, and for the most part the answers are elusive.

It fascinates me that these questions, the search for understanding and the efforts to find answers cut across peoples, cultures, and the ages.  Archaeologists now know that even the earliest of primitive people wrestled with much the same questions that plagued more sophisticated societies, and still remain unanswered today:

What is the purpose of life?
What is my role here?
Is there something “out there” that is greater than all else?
Why is there good and evil?
What can I do to make my life worth living?     Continue reading


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