In passing..... Joan Fontaine (October 22, 1917- December 15, 2013).........and Peter O'Toole (August 2, 1932- December 14, 2013). We can't really be surprised of course, with either of them. Fontaine had a wonderfully long and accomplished life. 96 years old? ..and with that wonderful work behind her. And as for O'Toole, by his own admission, he was surprised after all his drinking, smoking, and heavy carousing to be living on and on, year after year.
So many people die long before they're 81, taking very good care of themselves. I often wonder how some people live such long lives. It's genetic of course (partly!), and "environment" and how people take care of themselves, but I think sometimes it's something else.... I think some folks live a long life in spite of all sorts of abuse, self-abuse, and even despair and loss. I think people live a long time who burn for life. Literally burn for it. They may be disappointed and even heartbroken, but they love the journey. And even on the worse days, they find something to love in the world. A tune they hum, the taste of warm bread and butter, the sound of rain on leaves, a cat purring, a dog smiling, any and every sunset.... those are some of mine.
Jack London once wrote,
“I would rather be ashes than dust!
I would rather that my spark should burn out in a brilliant blaze than it should be stifled by dry-rot.
I would rather be a superb meteor, every atom of me in magnificent glow, than a sleepy and permanent planet.
The function of man is to live, not to exist.
I shall not waste my days trying to prolong them.
I shall use my time.”
London died at 40 as it turns out, truly burning up like a brilliant spark. But I think he was on to something. Life force is a kind of fuel. One could use it all up very fast I suppose. But I often wonder if Van Gogh hadn't committed suicide, would his passion and vision and thirst to see and make beauty have kept that wonderful heart beating for a century. Picasso's nearly did. John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, Newton, Galileo, Einstein, various artists, actors, writers, the list goes on of people lived much longer than their contemporaries and the “average life span”. And in our own circles, family members or friends that have lived long lives....mine have always been intensely present to everything. "Mindful".... Maybe that's it.... mindful; present to all of life in all its aspects, almost minute to minute. And burning their fuel gladly, knowing that as it is used, so shall it be replaced. I think Life is meant to be used… and with passion.
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