A THOUSAND WORDS - Alex Waterhouse-Hayward's blog on pictures, plants, politics and whatever else is on his mind.




 

That Red Line Of My Lifespan
Tuesday, December 23, 2014



I have been meaning to write something associated with lifespans for a while. Last night in a bout of my perennial insomnia I thought about adding to my little essay on the tenacity of my cat to live, the idea that a cat’s lifespan is much compressed. Rebecca clinched it by saying today, “Plata was born the same year as I was so that makes us the same age in years, but not in cat years.”

In the early 70s when I taught high school in Mexico City to filthy rich and spoiled American teenagers I  had the problem of reticent kids not willing to say anything in class. One of the tricks I used that brought lots of class contribution was the idea that in some far away future we would all be born with a blank line on our left wrist that would slowly edge in red in one direction.  Since science in the future would be able to project an accurate lifespan for all of us, the little but inexorably moving line would tell us about our “battery life”. The question I asked my students was, “How would we live our life if we knew how much time we had left?”

I was born in 1942. My father left our house in 1950. I saw him again for about a year in 1965. This meant that his lifespan and mine mingled for just 9 years and I am not considering the first three or four years of my existence when I would not have known of his existence.

Of my mother she was with me (or I with her) until 1972. That means that we shared a lifespan for 30 years with those first three or four of my life a blank. If I add 30 to 9 that would mean that the 47 years  I have lived with my wife Rosemary exceed those 30. That is most amazing.

Last year Lauren and I checked up on Puig (pronounced puch) almost every day. He(she?) was a spider that moved into our house in the beginning of November on the inside window of our front door. He was there until late January. One day he (she?) was gone.

That shared lifespan between Lauren and her grandfather has been a bond between us in some ways as important as the one that I share with Rosemary.  We were both present when my mother breathed in and did not exhale again.

At this Christmas time and those lazy but important days until and including the Epiphany on January 6 there is plenty of time to think about all the above and to reflect on all those red lines (some finished, some at the beginning, some in the middle, and those for whose the lines are about to terminate) that we (and I) have shared knowingly and unknowingly. Sometimes (and it would seem at most important times) those lines do not run in parallel, or do they diverge on converge. Sometimes they cross. 

Those crossings can be like that of a motorist my mother and I never met. I was about 8 and we were crossing a busy street in Buenos Aires (near Juramento) called Cabildo. My grandmother was already on the other side. Suddenly she shouted,” Nena, go back.”  We did just at the moment that a speeding car would have run us over.  

A young man called Angel sat me at a chair in Arsenal Naval Buenos Aires, I was a raw sailor recruit who was unaware that my will to do anything would be nonexistent for two years without the express permission of even a lowly superior.  With a smile on his face Angel asked me how I wanted  my hair cut. I told him. He then proceeded to give me a “doble cero”. He shaved my head clean. Then he surprised me. He told me, “ Captain Hans Langsdorff, the captain of the battleship Admiral Graff Spee, shot himself with a Luger in this room, over by that corner.” That moment I crossed lines with a dead man and I have never forgotten and with a live man I never met again who called himself Angel.

Every once in a while (not too often) I get a few communications from people who begin by writing, “I don’t know how I stumbled upon your blog, but thank you.”  The red line is silently ticking with a few crosses here and there.  

When Rebecca was 10 the three of us flew to Buenos Aires. I crossed Cabildo at the exact same spot with the two. I never told them of the previous, almost tragic, event at those coordinates.  






     

Previous Posts
My Dogged Cat's Will To Live

The Age Of Fidget

Why Bach? - A Coda by Marv Newland

Our Pseudotsuga menziesii var. menziesii & The Sw...

Ink In My Father's Hands

Each Instant - Irrevocably Forgotten In The Next I...

The Music in the Violin Does Not Emerge Alone

Point of Balance - Puntos de Apoyo

The Ornamental Twiddles Of A Baroque Orchestra

Mixed Nuts For An Alternative Vancouver Christmas



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6/12/16 - 6/19/16

6/19/16 - 6/26/16

6/26/16 - 7/3/16

7/3/16 - 7/10/16

7/10/16 - 7/17/16

7/17/16 - 7/24/16

7/24/16 - 7/31/16

7/31/16 - 8/7/16

8/7/16 - 8/14/16

8/14/16 - 8/21/16

8/21/16 - 8/28/16

8/28/16 - 9/4/16

9/4/16 - 9/11/16

9/11/16 - 9/18/16

9/18/16 - 9/25/16

9/25/16 - 10/2/16

10/2/16 - 10/9/16

10/9/16 - 10/16/16

10/16/16 - 10/23/16

10/23/16 - 10/30/16

10/30/16 - 11/6/16

11/6/16 - 11/13/16

11/13/16 - 11/20/16

11/20/16 - 11/27/16

11/27/16 - 12/4/16

12/4/16 - 12/11/16

12/11/16 - 12/18/16

12/18/16 - 12/25/16

12/25/16 - 1/1/17

1/1/17 - 1/8/17

1/8/17 - 1/15/17

1/15/17 - 1/22/17

1/22/17 - 1/29/17

1/29/17 - 2/5/17

2/5/17 - 2/12/17

2/12/17 - 2/19/17

2/19/17 - 2/26/17

2/26/17 - 3/5/17

3/5/17 - 3/12/17

3/12/17 - 3/19/17

3/19/17 - 3/26/17

3/26/17 - 4/2/17

4/2/17 - 4/9/17

4/9/17 - 4/16/17

4/16/17 - 4/23/17

4/23/17 - 4/30/17

4/30/17 - 5/7/17

5/7/17 - 5/14/17

5/14/17 - 5/21/17

5/21/17 - 5/28/17

5/28/17 - 6/4/17

6/4/17 - 6/11/17

6/11/17 - 6/18/17

6/18/17 - 6/25/17

6/25/17 - 7/2/17