I haven’t seen many of the well-known performers or groups in person. I did see Maya Angelo once in Chicago in 1960 or ’61 before she became world famous as a writer. She was the warm-up act, as a dancer (!), for the Clancy Brothers at Mr. Kelly’s. Many years later, when I met her and told her about that experience, she smiled in a kind of “that was then” way. I did see Peter, Paul, and Mary, though, at around the same time. They too were not yet the big-name group they were to become a few years later, performing when I saw them to a small audience of no more than 200 people. Mary Travers died in 2009 at age 72 of leukemia. I guess she was following the principle of “ladies first.” To my knowledge, Peter and Paul are still with us, both well into their 80s...
Well, my bags are packed too, and at 82 I am ready to go. The analogy is to a highly pregnant woman with her hospital valise filled with the usual essentials and parked strategically by the bedroom door. When the labor pains became sufficiently frequent, she would be all set for her trip to the hospital to deliver new life. Not that I am especially keen to shuffle off this mortal coil. But I have taken Don Juan Matus’s advice to Carlos Castaneda to heart, to take Death as my ally. So, what does it mean to have one’s bags packed in this context? Well, on the material side, it means things like having an updated will, a so-called letter of direction, possibly written guidance for one’s memorial service, a DNR order filled out and signed, a cemetery plot bought and paid for—things like that. On the spiritual side, it means feeling content with the life one has lived and, in the old phrase, “being right with God.” In that regard, I like to say that as a Jewish-Christian-Sufi, an Abrahamic universalist if you will, I have a celestial passport with multiple visas, just in case. Or as the son of a dad who spent his life on Wall Street in New York City and later as a grain broker on the Chicago Board of Trade and “The Merc,” I often say that my spiritual portfolio is diversified. Hey, if it works in the financial markets, why not in the more spiritual realms?
Meantime, my theme song is “I’m Gonna Live, Live, Live Until I Die.” Aging will bring its own memento mori, like aching knees when you go down stairs, arthritis in various joints, or my latest, something called paresthesia, when one of your hands falls asleep and stays that way. I wrote about this syndrome in a recent blog where I cited the irony of a sleeping hand waking one up from a sound full-bodied sleep, where the smaller sleep trumps the larger one. In a few hours, though, I’ll be off to see Boulder’s pre-eminent hand physical therapist to see if she can offer me some help. If not, there’s apparently a super-quick new out-patient procedure that can handle the issue. We’ll see. Meantime, life is good, and if my spiritual guide, the late Muhammad Subuh is correct, the Great Life after this one is really the better one. I guess I’ll find out. For now, my bags are packed.