Do Not Resuscitate: April 2006: Archives

April 25, 2006

Ali G: Youth In Asia genre: Do Not Resuscitate & Tongue-In-Cheek & Video-Philes

Daniel DiRito | April 25, 2006 | 8:36 PM | link | Comments (0)
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April 17, 2006

An Appointment To Die genre: Do Not Resuscitate

We’re all dying. Some sooner, some later, but with certainty death will defeat life. It’s the one appointment that’s never missed yet few of us are ever sufficiently prepared. When we’re young, dying is a remote concept with which we feel little connection. It’s what happens to old people. Old is a far away place that is difficult to comprehend. As we age, the anxious anticipation to know more and see more wanes as what we learn brings the realization that the horizons before us, once thought to be unlimited, will one day bring our setting sun to its final resting place beyond our worldly view. What once seemed infinite becomes inexorable.

As I think back on my own childhood, I recall my first encounter with death. It was the passing of Mrs. Rael, my Catholic grade school librarian. I was only in second grade. In retrospect, having the entire student body attend her funeral mass seems at best misguided. Aside from a fear of the unknown, my own perceptions are vivid but limited. In the actions of the adults, I recall witnessing the magnitude of her demise but I am unaware of my own actual comprehensions. I knew it was serious and I knew I should be sad, but while the weight surrounded me, it never seemed to encumber me. Perhaps that’s one of the blessings of childhood.

Years would pass before I began to understand my own mortality. Silly as it sounds, turning twenty-five dealt that first blow to my invincibility. A quarter of a century seemed like an eternity. At the time, my protestations were about transitioning from a child to an old person. I was suddenly becoming what I had only seen from a distance. Thinking back, I’m convinced the real impact was a subconscious awareness of just how fast it had arrived. The dreams of endless horizons were being overtaken by the fear of the last horizon.

A score of years later would not only make me aware of the diminishing horizons; the passage of time made my choices all the more relevant. Nothing can actually prepare the psyche for death, but as we age we can no longer ignore its inevitability. Suddenly the process of a slowly absorbing awareness becomes a compelling preoccupation. My own moment of awareness came twelve years into a successful career position. It’s hard to say how all the stars had suddenly aligned, but I found myself focused back to Mrs. Rael. In an instant, the weight I’d only witnessed all those years ago had become my own to carry and I knew it would be with me forever. Forever had now become an ending. Wherever I looked, I could only see the last horizon. It was as if all of my blessings had seemingly evaporated.

I knew my life needed to change and I began a process that took nearly two years to complete. Numerous people inquired as to my plan. Beyond taking a trip around the world, little else was certain. Strangely, it didn’t matter. I simply knew my story needed a plot twist. The ending I could envision wasn’t acceptable...so I took the leap...despite the fear of choosing the unknown.

Nearly two years later and I realize that I’m still dying, but surprisingly, I’ve never been more alive. What I’ve learned is that the final horizon never changes; it’s been there all along. I’ve seen it and I’ve accepted that it exists…but I’ve quit looking at it. My appointment to die has been set, but the time and distance between now and then remains my life. I choose each step but I never count them. The wind that used to take me where it wished now reminds me why I walk the path I’ve selected. By pushing against what I know, I define who I am. When I finally made the decision to walk away from who I had become, I became who I am.

We’re all dying, but we’re not all living. Death is inevitable but living is something we choose. Time spent looking past the living is death hastened. Life cannot be measured by the years we live. It must be measured by the living we choose. What exists between now and then is ours to decide. The journeys taken to any horizon are the footprints that define our lives. Being prepared for death requires having fully lived. I have an appointment to die but I refuse to arrive early or unprepared. Nearly four years ago, that fateful decision made me realize that in this life, we’re all gamblers. I know what happens when my final hand is dealt. In the meantime, I’m wagering everything on life. My blessing is in realizing that I have that choice.

Daniel DiRito | April 17, 2006 | 1:52 PM | link | Comments (0)
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