Día de Muertos, Halloween, Samhain, All Hallows Evening, Allhallowtide,whatever you call it, tonight may be seen by kids as a fun time to dress up in costumes and get free candy from strangers just for showing up at their door, but, given the events of this past year, it means more than a kid’s holiday tonight. Some say that tonight, the chasm between the living and the dead is the thinnest of any day in the year.
For me, it brings back memories of dressing up in a costume and my Mom driving me to different “good” neighborhoods, and letting me Trick or Treat, but with Mom dead now, it gives me pause to think about the whole topic of death.
Whether you believe your lights just get turned out at death, that you disappear into nothingness, or whether you believe you go to Heaven (or Hell) or get reincarnated, the one thing we can agree on is that, at least for a time, you HAD a life…you were alive, and had choices every day of what you would do with that day.
I had to go several places today and saw children dressed in Halloween themed outfits, people buying candy for the night, and as I was picking music CDs to play in the car, I realized that most, if not all the CDs, featured singers / musicians who are now dead. Janis Joplin, Jimi Hendrix, Thin Lizzy, BB King, the Doors, Quicksilver Messenger Service, Little Feat…all of them now are fairly old or dead.
Many of us this year have lost loved ones….people who were so close to us that we would have gladly given our lives in exchange for theirs, and when reflecting on that, the question that all this brought to me is , what have we done with our lives. Poor or rich, athletic or overweight, black, white, brown, red..whatever pigmentation we carry, male or female, atheist or believer, uneducated or overeducated, we all have had choices of what to do with our time here on Earth.
For my parents, since we were fairly poor, it was hard work, every day, long hours for not much money. But, they showed me how to treat people…how not to judge people based on their skin color, their religion, their affluence or lack thereof.
They taught me to respect others as long as they deserved that respect, and they taught me helping others is a virtue, not a weakness,
I think not only do “we the people” have to reflect on what our lives have amounted to, but we as a Nation, whether you live in the USA, Germany, France, Saudi Arabia, whatever, must reflect on what the life your Nation has been given, whatever resources your country has, what have YOU done with this life you have?
To me, if one’s life as an individual , OR the life of the Nation, was just about getting rich, exploiting others, and treating good people unjustly, is what your life has amounted to, what it is all about, then your life has been squandered on you.
I saw my folks do without so they could give me things I wanted or needed as a child. I saw them give to others, when they didn’t have for themselves, and, I incorporated that as the way a life should be lived.
In a couple if weeks, we will celebrate Veteran’s Day…and we have many vets who have given their life, or are living lives in which they are severely disabled, when they entered the service whole and healthy. I can remember seeing Veterans on the streets when I was a child selling “Buddy Poppies”. My folks always gave money to the Vets on the streets with the Buddy poppy program. My father was a Veteran of World War II, but as a kid, I didn’t know how bad off some veterans were.
The whole point of all this is simple. We have lives…and while we are living them…what are we doing with them ?
I know, in my mind, my life has never been as beneficial to others as my parent’s lives were. Their lives though, were my model, and from being a small child onward, my big aim was just to be the kind of people my Mom and Dad were, when I grew up. I didn’t want to be poor like they were, but I wanted to live a life of helping others, and of extending my hand to someone who needed it.
I think, if we are to evaluate our lives, we should do so in terms of what changes if any, we have made in the world as a result of us being here, and secondly, what impact did we have on those around us. Did we inspire them to share our values, and in essence, “pay it forward”?
Everyone who is born, is a day closer to death every day we live. Of course, we have to make a living, do those things that we are required to do as citizens, and, somewhere in there, sleep a bit. But, in our discretionary time, have we made things better or made others think about changes that need to occur ?
I don’t think you have to be President, build a pyramid, or have your name in a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, to have lived a worthwhile life. I just think you have to do the best you can, every day, to make the lives of your fellow humans, and animals, a bit better because of what you do and who you are.
I think we NEED to try to stop every once and a while and say “What have I done with my life” or “What am I doing with my life”. Have I made life better for those living around me, or for those who will be born in the future ?
Unfortunately, people are all too quick to measure a person by how much money he or she accumulated during life, how much fame they acquired, etc. Some mobsters have beautiful, ornate tombs or headstones or a giant mausoleum, but in life, they killed, or caused to be killed, many people. Many died with blood on their hands, but gave away money to those in their old neighborhoods, and were seen as honored people by those receiving those monies.
Many rulers, past presidents, have fancy libraries in their names, but in life, they caused many people to die or suffer, and deserve no great reverence in death.
I talked to a woman today whose father died at age 65, and from what she said, although poor, he was a good man, and also from what she said, it seems obvious that the malpractice of doctors at the hospital were truly at fault for his death at what was a relatively young age.
So, amid the horror movies on TV, the kids in costumes searching for candy, take just a few minutes to reflect on your life, the lives of your loved ones, and ask yourself, if I passed away today, what was my life about…was I a contributor to progress, or did I just selfishly take and take with no thought for others.
In closing, I know many people who have lost loved ones may read this, and to you, my condolences.
I think the best tribute we can give our lost loved ones, is to live a life helping others, and to inspire others to do the same.
So, to my Mother, who I miss more than words can convey, to the loved ones of all my friends and followers, you did well. You lived a life that mattered…you passed on the goodness you had inside, to others…and to me, that is what life should be about.
Hoping your Saturday, Samain, Halloween, All Saints Day, was a good one.
Thanks for reading this.