Close your eyes and imagine you are in the twilight years of your life. Imagine that you had a healthy childhood, with parents that loved and supported, but did not understand you. No matter how hard they tried – and try they did – there was nothing they could do to earn an embrace from you, their only child And one day, they simply stopped trying.
Imagine that the schools you attended – kindergarten through undergraduate – were standard educational institutions, filled with the same generational highs and lows, for nearly every attendee. Yet, not a single person from 17 years of being surrounded by young people of the same age, speaking the same language, and raised under the same flag, cannot even recall seeing you or hearing your name, even though you where in the same classes with many of them for four or more straight years.
Imagine, working for the same company for 42 years, your entire adult life. Your job duties & responsibilities, remained generally the same, and you never, intentionally, sought pay increases nor promotions. But the reality of your stagnation was disguised by the perpetual motion of the company and the world around you and in-spite of you. Organizational changes gifted promotions. Technology gave way to changes in job functionality, although no real change in deliverables. Reality attempted to reveal itself – the announcement of your retirement, was the only buzz ever recorded about you, and that buzz was if anyone knew who you were – but you convinced your ego, that you did not like your co-workers anyway.
Imagine in your retirement, you are in good physical and financial health, and finally have time to take a casual drive across your country. In mid-February – during your once-in-a-lifetime, retirement excursion – you find yourself in northern Arizona, staring directly into one of the most magnificent wonders of the world: The Grand Canyon.
In Fairfield, Connecticut, an elder couple by the name of John and Ann Betar, give true definition to everlasting love. The product of a union that never should have been – Mrs. Betar’s parents promised her to another suitor. Traditionalism would have called for adherence and sacrifice, but Ann had, by then, found her soul mate in a man named John. Wedding arraignments being planned for the wrong man, it was Ann’s heart that prove as pronounced, as John’s nerves, as the defiant couple, stole away, eloping in a city near New York. That was in 1923.
Imagine, as you secure your efficiently-sized mobile home into the reserved camping quarters. You then load sufficient water and energy food into the breathable backpack, purchased in New Mexico’s Cherokee Nation, at roadside souvenir shop, simply because the sales clerk told you it had a good spirit. You then take a short walk, and with little fanfare, find yourself standing at the Canyon’s edge.
Initially, the two eagles soaring above, stood alone. You also dismissed the two squirrels, which scurried right underneath, then around your old but steady legs. To the left, a loving couple only 30 feet from you. To the right, bikers with matching outfits, teammates or life partners, it makes no difference to where this will end. You try to pretend the circle of life is just a silly song. That people are not connected and the earth is not God’s song. But when the two butterflies land on your shoulder, imagine, denial exploding, shattering your protective shield. Now that you are listening, all of the pieces have fit. A radio program, heard just an hour prior, about two people in Connecticut, married for 80 years, yet still, expressing their love. The sun’s perfect setting, beyond the reach of nature’s perfect view, fails to deliver a diversion, as your entire life barrels 100 miles per hour, directly toward you. So you will erect another shield, hoping it will hold, but thinking of someone else’s challenged life, is a wall that will crumble, but at least you bought some time.
In 1993 a man best described as living in the shadows, would alter the course of two lives, and more likely than not, history itself. Günter Parche of Germany believed he had fallen in love with former world number one tennis player, Steffi Graff, also from Germany. It was not possible for him to actually be in love with her, since the two of them had never met.
To those who have them, or worse yet – live them – delusions and reality are one in the same. General laws of socialization, physics and even the indisputable science of gravity, are defied or ignored, which in crazy world, is a distinction without a difference. Unless a person is willing to operate within the fly-by-night-parameters in the worlds the delusional create, asking “Why?” is the epitome of an exercise in futility.
Monica Seles was 19 years old on the day she would meet Gunter Parche, although introductions were anything but proper. Before Serena & Venus Williams would come into prominence, rocking the tennis world to its core, Monica Seles had been a one-woman wrecking crew. She went pro at 14, an age when physical ability and mental strength are being tested, an earnest, for the first time. More so, at an age when young girls are no longer running from young boys, Miss Monica Seles, born in a land known then as Yugoslavia, but now as Serbia, was single-handedly changing the dynamics of an international sport. Injecting power and precision into a game ruled by serve and volleyers, she turned the tennis world upside down and shot straight to the top At 16, she would become the youngest player to win the French Open, one of four Grand Slams, the holy grail of Tennis. Before her 20th birthday, she would capture seven more crowns, ascend to the pinnacle of her sport, becoming the number one womens tennis player on God’s green earth, dethroning Steffi Graff in the process, and detonating the crazy inside Gunter Parche’s delusional world.
Those who were there (Hamburg), can still hear the scream. The vocal screams from the physical pain of being stabbed are memorable enough, but it was the silent screams, when she collapsed on her back, that they remember most. She would leave the game for two years, then, with a certain degree of success (when measuring life success in increments), made a gallant comeback. But the game had passed her by. What could Monica Seles had accomplished if she had not unwittingly been a part of Gunter Parche’s delusional crazy game of love? In a stunning display of cruelty – most would never suspect from love, Gunter Parche – a man whose only mention upon life’s stage, is that he stabbed an unaware, defenseless, talented young lady in the back – would accomplish his mission in the name of love. With Monica gone, Steffi Graff would take Paris, then retake the throne.
Imagine its a perfect day, near Flagstaff, Arizona. You are standing atop one of the Seven Natural Wonders of the World, before an oasis filled with such majesty and beauty, all questions regarding the Creators existence, are soundly defeated. you are forced into an inventory of self. With no lasting or memorable relationships, and with no one calling out your name, words of praise or contempt by others are no longer pawns in this one-person, timer-on, solo game of chess.
Imagine searching for something (even though you strongly suspect, you have taken temporary vacancy in crazy world) as to why your hour upon the stage, should have meaning, but doesn’t. And how does a man or a woman, arrive at the golden age of 65, be in complete control of all senses, yet having never loved or made love to another. At last, you begin to respect life’s meaning, then notice out of the corner of your good eye, it is not the sun setting, but the curtains are closing in on your life. Hour nearly up, with just over five minutes to go, imagine there are now, only two clearly distinct paths of which to choose.The setting sun, provokes you to stand. A gentle breeze serves as a reminder to take the cap off your head. Two thoughts, two choices, one decision, that is all you have left. The curtains are drawing slowly, but like love, life can be your soul mate one day, then a knife in the back, before the same day ends.
Do you accept the life you lived, and the defaulted path in which it will end? Not a bad life, you have harmed no one, and worked for everything that you did. But staring out into the great abyss you ponder option two. “An old man or an old woman now, what can I do?” If you are still imagining, than remember you are all alone. You are granted one tidbit of valuable advice. But advice is only useful to those who heed the value in these words. Take a knee, then dig real deep, and if you believe, ask the Lord to reveal his plan for you, just one more time.. Each man and each woman has a purpose in this life. Accepting or rejecting said purpose, offers the same existence in the afterlife. One changes nothing. The other fills holes, holes that you now wish, were not left in your wake. One takes work, the other will cost you nothing. And with no one – alive or dead – who cares about the outcome, the only beneficiary is you. Heed this advice, for it is all you will get: take a moment, absorb this beautiful day. Clock still ticking, curtains moving closer, so never forget, time is not your friend. But more than anything else, close your eyes, lean back and…breathe.