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Max Roytenberg

Max Roytenberg: Making it Through the Night

by Max Roytenberg, posted Jan 2014, Dublin

I am not a Canadian soldier on patrol in Kandahar, Afghanistan, or a US Special Forces commando on a special assignment in Pakistan, or an Israeli soldier on post near the border of Gaza. These individuals, young men, usually, know they face imminent danger and the risk of violent death. They are standing between us and personal danger on a global scale and they are fighting the good fight for us. We are and should be grateful. They are protecting us and the extraordinarily sumptuous and fortunate lives many of us lead far away from these contentious locations. These young men do not know for sure whether they will make it through the night unharmed.

I am a Winnipegger, a Canadian, living far away from home, in Dublin, Ireland. Where I live the electrical system operates on a fairly consistent basis, and the water usually flows from our taps, as they do for most of us where we live in Europe, in North America, and in many of the larger cities around the world. Where we come from life is ordered and fairly predictable. We expect life to go on for us tomorrow much as it did yesterday. We probably take it all for granted.

Many of us may have lost someone who was dear to us, a friend, a parent, a sibling, God forbid, a child. Death is one of the immutable realities that faces all living things. But, in personal terms, we rarely think about the Grim Reaper at our door. We know He is there, but we are too busy going about the business of living to think much about it. Exceptions abound, of course, particularly associated with breakdowns in health, or active disease, which make the potentiality of imminent death a constant and grim reality.

We are approaching the age of eighty, my Bride and I. A regular study of the obituary pages in our hometown media impresses us with the reality that we are becoming an increasingly rare species. We buy the popular dictum that, with all the advances in our society, the age sixty is the new fifty, and so on. We have met and are coping well with all the usual ailments, and with our deteriorating body parts. We welcome any and all devices that can help us cope with deficiencies that appear. We are active and as healthy as one might expect.

Having found each other after a separation of over fifty years, rekindling buried feelings, we are now, together, living a life that fulfils for us our wildest dreams of happiness and sharing. Without regretting our pasts (well, maybe a little bit,) we are jealous of the years of our lives that flew past without our having shared them. We have been given a new lease on life. Each moment of our consciousness together is another opportunity for a pleasure unique in our experience. When our pasts impinge on our presents, family and friends, shared memories of our growing up and our heritage, they have a fresh sweetness in their validation in our together state. We know how fragile are these experiences, so easily and quickly swept away by accidents of chance and deteriorating apparatus; we savour their taste. A meal together, a joke together, a walk together, offer moments sublime.

When we awake in the morning from our separated consciousness in slumber, we remember that we have made it through yet another night, that our lease has been extended, hopefully, for another day. We, none of us, can guess how long our lease will run. As we are so far down the trail, we believe that we have much more history behind us than we have a future before us. So each additional day together is a precious one.

Each morning we celebrate making it through the night!




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