The course was pretty jammed up last Friday. So Rick and I spent as much time talking as we did actually playing golf. At least it seemed that way.
" 2011 was a big year for you," he said as he was teeing it up. "Lots to deal with."
" Yeah," I said. "But it's mostly dealing with stuff. Some people have real problems. I don't have real problems."
"Don't sell this short," he said as he looked down range. " One of your best friends died. You walked away from a career. Granted, you wanted out for years. But that's a major life change. And then there was all that other shit. That's a lot to deal with."
He pulled his tee shot into the woods.
" That's what I get for going all sensitive on you," he said. "Let's talk about something else."
2011 was turbulent. No doubt about that. But as the Buddhists say, "Storms can't hurt the sky." The storms pass. The sky abides.
There is not a day that passes where I don't think about my friend Hugh who died last February. As I have said before, people die. I get that. They have car wrecks. They have heart attacks. They get cancer. But Hugh was a big strong man. And he flipped over into a traumatic respiratory disorder none of us had ever heard of after catching the flu. None of us had any frame of reference for something like this.
The surgeon who did his trache pondered the irony with Laura and I. "All of us have had the flu," he said." It doesn't turn over into something like this except maybe in the elderly. This is just bad luck. Bad luck, pure and simple." Motor vehicle accident? I have a frame of reference for that kind of bad luck. Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome? I got nothin'.
Or as Chris Riviere said after the funeral, " Boys, back when we were at Tulane could you have believed that something like this would happen to one of us?"
Non, mah bah. I still don't.
In retrospect, I don't believe that I consciously thought of Hugh exactly when I made the decision to accept early retirement. But I was keenly aware of the shortness of our temporal lives. My father, who died at 52, had too many mouths to feed to consider retirement. But he did express an interest on maybe going to law school at night. To maybe become a patent lawyer. Well, he didn't get that chance. A friend of mine in Jackson who expressed approval of my walking away from the Federal Building reminded me that Hugh wouldn't get the chance either. Life is short.
I still don't really know what 2012 will bring. Ending my safe and secure career was scary at first. But it's OK now. I have been approached by 2 or 3 people who want to know if I am available to talk about working for them. That is flattering and reassuring. Sure. I will be happy to talk to them. Finished the edits on the first resume I have done in 20 years. Those will be unleashed on an unsuspecting populace soon. I look good on paper. Then again, you've never seen a resume that starts off, " Well, to be perfectly honest....." Anyway, we shall see what we shall see. There are things I think I want to do that don't involve practicing law. But I was also a pretty fair country lawyer. I don't know what the future holds. But I won't have to take in laundry or dip dogs in order to make money. I'm not anxious. I am at peace.
Rev. Nixon senses a spirituality about all of this that he encourages me to heed. "Listen to yourself," he said the other day. " Take your time and let that new voice inside you lead you to whatever it is that you are supposed to do."
I don't know about the spiritual aspect of all of this. But retired or not, Vic is still a Methodist preacher. He knows what he is. His antenna for the spiritual is still on high gain. Me? I'm still in the process of figuring it out. But I am at least trying to listen to that new voice.
2011 was for the most part just godawful. But I am not anxious. I am at peace.
After all, the storm has passed. The sky still abides.
Happy New Year.