Saturday, 25 June 2022

Random mortality-adjacent thoughts.

I basically had my first sick-day in a decade yesterday. Wobble kept me company in bed, staking his claim to my corpse.

This bout of man-flu (which has now proven to be covid) was not the cause of this post, it's cause-adjacent.

Today, since my wife now has the same virus and my fever has broken, I went down to deliver moving boxes to my mother-in-law, who in her late 80s is moving into an old-people's home next week.

Because I was still contagious, I didn't go in to help. And leaving when I did was why while I was walking up the hill on the way back, I was in time to be passed by a motorcyclist going stupid-mph and weaving.

That young (probably) man (probably) will (probably) be OK, but it prompted one of the thoughts that visit me periodically.

In 1990, or there abouts, I was doing a Ph.D at Imperial College in London. A friendly guy introduced himself to me. Juan was also doing a Ph.D in my group. He was basically the anti-Mark: friendly, chatty, warm, easy in his skin, given to sharing his secrets ... which I guess made them not secrets at all. 

That winter, Juan went to visit friends and family in Mexico. The next thing we knew, he was dead. Killed in a car crash. There are only two conversations I remember out of the many chats I must have had with Juan. One of those two concerned how enthusiastic he was about the idea of having children. In a group of young men focused on their research he was the outlier. He wanted six.

Juan was the first non-old person I'd known to die. We weren't friends, we were friendly. Since then I've had a handful of old school-mates and acquaintances die, and one good friend. And I carry them around - Juan drops in now and then. I don't know the circumstances of his death - maybe he was an innocent passenger rear-ended by a truck, maybe he was driving, pushing the envelope. Doesn't matter. The motorcyclist shot past me and I thought of Juan.

People die and the ripples they left are carried forwards by the people who knew them - some small fragment of them propagating into the future until it's extinguished. And in the end they'll be just names in some indelible register of births and deaths, the occasional census, the archives of a school. 

At some point after that some descendant who, has reached that point in life when they realise they've lived their whole life looking forward for answers and meaning, will incorrectly think that those answers might lie behind them instead. They'll look up records, build a family tree, copy the names. An immortality in name only.

A blog is a place to dump random thoughts. They can't all be about selling you guys books. 

There's no particular point to this post. It's just passing thoughts condensing through the keyboard. As I progress through life I'm carrying my dead with me. That's all. Some lived long lives. Some lived fulfilling lives. Some were short.

To conclude. Be careful out there. And if you can't be careful then at least make sure you're getting a good exchange rate between risk and thrill.

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