By Tim Barkley. May 2020.
“I don’t want to achieve immortality through my work; I want to achieve immortality through not dying. I don’t want to live on in the hearts of my countrymen; I want to live on in my apartment.”
These immortal words of Woody Allen present the human quandary. Yes, we all know somewhere in our subconscious that we have not actually achieved immortality “through not dying,” that we cannot; but it’s easy to continue with life as though we expect to just somehow “live on in our apartment” forever. Clients of this author used to sit in the conference room and explain what should be in their wills and powers of attorney “in case something happens to me.”
“The Virus” has changed all of that. Now, the conferences are online in order to protect us from well-meaning, asymptomatic but contagious “others”; and there’s no “in case.” It is, as it always truly was, “when” – “when something happens.”
“Something” always “happens.” To all of us. We all know now – in our present, conscious reality – that the bell tolls for each of us: maybe not today, maybe not tomorrow … but inexorably, the day grows closer.
Is this a good thing, or a bad thing?
Anything that strips from humans the gift of life is a far cry from the benison that was our birthright. Yet if we are given an impetus and opportunity to reflect on the nature of our reality, beyond mere animal existence, on the meaning of life and love, that is also a gift. It is an uncomfortable gift, maybe a gift we would rather not receive, but it is a gift, and we can use it to our benefit and the benefit of those we love.
After all, we have the gift of “now.” We never had “then.” The past “then,” as soon as it stopped being “now,” became a fading memory, and the future “then” is … nothing, until we get there, when it will be “now.” And now we know that “now” is precious.
And yet, our present “now” is affected by our past “now,” and likewise our future “now” will be affected by our present “now.” What we do in this “now” affects that one. In the face of the reality of our frailty, can we see “now” as a priceless gift? Can this invest with meaning the “now” that is all we really have?
What are we doing with this “now” to faithfully love those we love? There are myriad answers to that question. In light of the purpose of this column, are we being faithful stewards of our time, assets and energy? Are we planning carefully and joyfully for our future “now” and the future “now” of those we love?
Prior articles in this space have explored the specifics of faithful planning. Whether meetings are online or in person; whether document signings are virtual or in a conference room, but at a distance; whether family dinners are a gathering around the physical table or in a conferencing app – whatever the means or the mechanism, we are all humans gathered to live and love together.
Are we well-served if we are just waiting to resume a comfortable (or, at least, not-too-intolerable) “life as usual”? Would we be better served if we seized this moment to examine ourselves with a clear gaze, and make changes as needed, so that we might be found faithful.
Attorney Tim Barkley
The Tim Barkley Law Offices
One Park Avenue
P.O. Box 1136
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