February 18, 2018, 5:45 am
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Mortality

HOPEFULLY, the dear reader will forgive me for writing about something that, in the eyes of others, may be so unpleasant to contemplate. 

But recent events happening almost all at once - the passing of three people I know on the birth date of a dear boss and friend; my catching the “Becoming Warren Buffet” HBO documentary, which has deeply affected me; and thoughts about my mother as her birth date nears - have made me a bit more reflective of the fact that sooner or later I will be having to walk into the lovely dark woods, promises to keep notwithstanding.

But death and taxes, we are told, are the only two inevitables in life. Inaccurately, it appears, because you can actually move to a place like Dubai (?) and escape the taxes part. 

But death? I’ve always loved the story “Appointment in Samara” that tells you there is no escaping the Grim Reaper no matter what you do. So when something like that is inescapable, what’s there to do?

Darn it, just sit back and enjoy it, as one late foreign minister of ours suggested.

Methinks there could be more productive things to do than just sitting back and enjoying the ride. And I suspect that a lot of the ills in the world would be solved - or at least eased a bit - if we all once in a while focused on the fact that on a day certain you and I will become dust. And forgotten. Unless...

Ohhh... Unless we leave behind a legacy for which we will be remembered. Preferably in a favorable light.

One way is this way: For those with children - of the human kind, I mean, to separate those like me who prefer to raise the canine kind - them children are already a good start at a legacy. Men and women who carry on the honorable names of their parents only help make the world a better place, and for as long as that chain isn’t broken, then somehow, the legacy remains intact. Sometimes, a monument is not cast in stone but is one that runs in the veins of a family.

Maybe one can also opt to write a book that immortalizes an event, an individual or group, or an idea or thought - so that others can be enlightened, perhaps inspired, but at the very least better informed of something of consequence to their lives.

One of my greatest regrets is that with the passing of my father, I will no longer have a chance to document the experiences of a 13-year-old orphaned boy emerging from the rubble of a world war with only three elder sisters, before struggling to become a high school valedictorian which led to a State University scholarship and an eventual tenure as a professor of medicine in what is regarded as the best medical school in the country. (And among whose students, I should quickly add, are those I now constantly consult about my own age - and lifestyle-related issues!).

Or - and importantly I think - if each and every one of those among us who aspire to public office and those lofty positions of leadership and influence realize that “sic transit gloria mundi” and that nothing you amass on earth can be brought with you into the afterlife (despite what our Chinese and Ancient Egyptian friends believe) then maybe the attitude of some of them towards their raison d’etre would result in a changed attitude from glory and power for their sake to glory and power for the sake of improving the world. “Man for others” as my Jesuit-trained friends excel at mouthing but which sometimes turns out as hollow as a former (Jesuit-trained!) President’s vow of “walang kaibigan, walang kumpare at walang kamah-anak”!

Of those who love watches, it’s not only a Patek Philippe that we don’t really pass on to the next generation (assuming we have one). It is what we have done as well in that short span of time that we lived on this earth. And that need not be something earth shaking that is felt by everyone; a kind word, a helping hand, a polite gesture though all fleeting do add up and help spread smiles that somehow brighten up the world.

***

Because I am the end of the line for my family in the Philippines after I am gone, there soon will be little to remember me or my lineage by. But then I’d like to think like my dad, who said he opted to teach medicine than to practice it because as a teacher he would be able to heal so much more than he could see as patients, through the able students he would help mold through the 30 plus years of instruction and who, in turn, would practice on his behalf.

Now let me contemplate how I could find my own multiplier effect along these lines!
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