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what's tragic about it? outliving everyone? save for my wife and kids all of my close relatives and friends have been dead for more than a decade minimum
I think this is a great article and don't associate tragic with any element of it.
Three of my grandparents and both of my parents are still alive, but both of my siblings are dead. These days that's a pretty unusual situation. They died a year and a half apart and it has just utterly ruined my parents (who are in their mid-fifties).
Two years ago [at age 84 in 1983], after he had begun to slow down, he typed, with his usual good humor, a long letter to a friend:
''I have a first degree heart block, have lost the sight in my right eye because of a degenerated retina, can't wind my wrist watch because my fingers have knuckled under to arthritis, can't tie my shoelaces, am dependent on seven different pills to stay alive, can't remember whether I took the pills or didn't.
"On the other hand, I am camped alone, here at Bert Mosher's Camps on the shore of Great Pond which I first visited in 1904; I have my 15-foot green Old Town canoe with me, which I brought over on the top of my car; I sat out a New England boiled dinner this noon by anticipating it with martinis and cheese-and-crackers before walking up to the farmhouse, and after dinner (or lack of same) went fishing for bass in my canoe.
''There is a certain serenity here that heals my spirit, and I can still buy Moxie in a tiny supermarket six miles away. Moxie contains gentian root, which is the path to the good life. This was known in the second century before Christ, and it is a boon to me today.''
And I submit that this is what the real, no bullshit value of your liberal arts education is supposed to be about: how to keep from going through your comfortable, prosperous, respectable adult life dead, unconscious, a slave to your head and to your natural default setting of being uniquely, completely, imperially alone day in and day out. That may sound like hyperbole, or abstract nonsense. Let's get concrete. The plain fact is that you graduating seniors do not yet have any clue what "day in day out" really means. There happen to be whole, large parts of adult American life that nobody talks about in commencement speeches. One such part involves boredom, routine and petty frustration. The parents and older folks here will know all too well what I'm talking about.
Nowadays when a person lives somewhere, in a neighborhood, the place is not certified for him. More than likely he will live there sadly and the emptiness which is inside him will expand until it evacuates the entire neighborhood. But if he sees a movie which shows his very neighborhood, it becomes possible for him to live, for a time at least, as a person who is Somewhere and not Anywhere.
lker Percy, especially in The Moviegoer,
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