Hunter Thompson once said, “Life should not be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving in a pretty well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside in a cloud of smoke, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming “Wow! What a ride!””
Not too long after that, if I recall, he had his ashes blasted into space, actually just the air, by some homemade cannon all to the cheers of a few friends. Believe me he was worn out. Admittedly, drinking off a bottle of Wild Turkey while campaigning for the mayor of Aspen added to being thoroughly used up.
I rather thought, maybe even today, that this attitude might have some merit but possibly slightly toned back. I know I’m down to puttering around the holdings, maybe flopping my one-man craft into the local lake for an afternoon of fishing, or sitting leisurely by an evening fire tipping back a fine beverage, or just sitting by the old stove reading my latest book Portrait of Ignorance. Certainly none of these acts in and of themselves could be deemed “in a cloud of smoke” but not bad for an aging dude who might be feeling sorry for himself.
I guess what I am up to is a little self-evaluation, maybe reflection on how this ‘trip’ has gone down. I know ‘trip’ is rather a hippy thing but then, I was sorta there, on a trip by all measure down Twain’s metaphorical river.
I’m not pontificating on my final cannon shot, nor on my visit to the back side of the moon, not even a dirt nap, but just thinking about the ‘ride’ the wonderful ride I, and I should say we have been on. Having just spent ten days frolicking in the Never Summer Mountains of Northern Colorado, and maybe more importantly, picking apples and putting the garden away right here in the backyard, I’m feeling pretty good even if the grand kid did ask me to go for a limp, which is his way of saying a hike but making a reference to my mode of movement.
No sooner after spending a few moments staring mindlessly into space, my wife recited a quote from Epicurus.
“It is not the young man who should be considered fortunate, but the old man who has lived well, because the young man in his prime wanders much by chance, vacillating in his beliefs, while the old man has docked in the harbor, having safeguarded his true happiness.”
I’m not sure I related to ‘docked in the harbor’, I definitely like to think I have rustled up some true happiness but I am still on the ‘move’, but then it is not at any great speed nor drowned in a cloud of dust, maybe skidding broadside though.
After more reflection on my ‘trip’, I saw myself as Marlin Brando in On the Waterfront, when with his brother he passionately said, “I coulda been a contender, I coulda been somebody. “ Things were getting rough around here, not only because I ain’t no Brando, but now I seemed to be questioning myself while ‘safeguarding my true happiness’. Oh, I guess I was somebody, maybe not a contender but I was a second team all-conference football player and I have been to a few county fairs—and to the arctic. Most importantly I had fun.
“But now the days grow short, I’m in the autumn of the year
And now I think of my life as vintage wine from fine old kegs
From the brim to the dregs and it poured sweet and clear
It was a very good year.”
Frank sang that one and I guess it is rather summing it up right now as the sun shines on a glorious 73 degree day in late October right here Amherst.