Reflections

Surviving Expiration Dates

Have you ever reached into the fridge or the cupboard for something you really wanted, only to discover its expiration date had passed?  Did you eat it anyway?  I did, and I survived.  I figure, unless the milk curdles in my coffee, I will survive, even if the taste is somewhat compromised.

But then, I’ve survived many expiration dates in my life.  Two previous siblings died from crib death, and as an infant, I was left in the care of my 8 year old brother for weeks, when my mother abandoned us.  But we all survived.  Back in that day, single fathers were not granted custody, even in the case of abandonment, so us kids were shuffled around while my Dad fought the system.  And somehow, we survived.  Years later, it was my brother who explained the facts of life to me, and it was not about life so much as survival, for that was the only goal worth seeking to him.  And it involved alcohol…

It seems to me there were always people placing well-meaning “bets” on my future.  They didn’t think I’d survive my childhood.  Then they were certain I couldn’t survive my teens; what with rampant alcoholism, suicidal tendencies, crazy as a loon and out of control, it seemed a safe bet.  But I DID survive, in spite of those well-reasoned predictions.  And as each year passed, so did many other “best guess” scenarios.  My brother and I had agreed as youngsters that 40 was a good time to die.  And so he did, during his 40th year, and my final countdown had begun again…

Eight years I waited, slowly letting go of everything around me…  But my 40th year came, and passed, and still  I survived…

And how many “expiration dates” has the planet itself survived?  Ice ages, mass extinctions, plagues, wars, overpopulation, famine, scarcity of resources, climate change…  And civilization?  The “wars to end all wars”, nuclear accidents, genetic engineering, Y2K, the Age of Aquarius, 2012, and countless other Armageddon scenarios with dates determined by those who “know”…  All passing into the past with a whimper or a whomp, but passing nonetheless.  And both civilization and the planet have survived…

Yet surviving is hardly thriving, is it?  It’s the old quantity vs. quality question again…

If you met your “one true love” one day, and knew it, but also knew that your time with them would be limited to a single year, would you pursue that relationship, or let it go to protect yourself from the inevitable trauma of losing them?  Have you ever loved a pet so much that losing them was too overwhelming to consider, and then been faced with the decision of “putting them down” or letting them live out their last days in pain?  Which path did you choose?  And did you choose to get another pet after?  Why or why not?

Quality versus quantity…  Which path appeals most?

Yes, I am a survivor; this I have proven, over and over again.  Yet still I suffer from “failure to thrive” syndrome, for no one looking honestly at my life could say truthfully that I have fulfilled my potential.  So where does that leave me?  My life has quantity, much more than most expected, including myself.  But does it have quality?

I don’t really like the word “survivor” for it implies victimization; victims survive traumas.  But I am no victim.  I have chosen my life path, every step of it, though certainly those choices have been influenced by circumstance.  I have made mistakes, and I have regrets, but I have also experienced amazing moments of success, triumph and revelation.  I have grown, in spite of the malice, pollution and corruption seeking to snuff out my existence.  I have persisted when even I could not imagine going on.  I have been stubborn, determined, even ruthless at times, when my next step depended on it.  And I have learned patience, adaptabilty and compassion to compensate for those decisions.  I have endured.

But I have not yet thrived…

There is a secret here I have not quite unravelled, but I fully intend to do so one day.  And what I know today is that it involves time in some inexplicable way…

Time is a perception, a concept, a method of ordering experience so that I can experience self-hood.  But it is only one method.  Without time, “I” may cease to exist, but some version of “me” will endure…

One is ageless, eternal, All-encompassing; everything co-existing simultaneously, without contradiction.

And “I” am just another expiration date to pass…

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2 thoughts on “Surviving Expiration Dates

  1. Daniel Peterson says:

    Like a photon, I take all possible paths through existence.
    Some call this a Paradox. Not me. I call it living.
    My kindred twin fights battles for me, and I fight battles for him.
    I support him, and he supports me.
    Separated by Expanse but united in Spirit, we are an Army of One.

    Liked by 1 person

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