Except it isn’t…
Once again, I am forced to write this early, due to situations beyond my control…even though I did everything I could to control them. The fact is, there are some things you simply can’t control…only try to manage.
Some people say that 2020 may very well be the worst year in their lives. I guess that depends on how long your life is. Being old…with lots of life…I contend that 1968 still “wins” that distinction. But, I have to admit, 2020 is rapidly coming up on the backstretch. But in the end, there is simply no way to control the “final chapter” of any life. You can try to plan, to help you manage what you predict to be true. But, in the end, “the end” will come when it comes…and you can bet that the one who is at the finish line, is never really prepared or willing to admit that this is really the end.
What I can say…is that those of us who play TSTO, have long predicted “The End” of the game…but as we have all witnessed, we have been wrong. The game just keeps rising from the dead…or perhaps continues to be “resurrected” in some Lazarus form of “near death,” that befuddles and amazes everyone, except maybe Lazarus.
“The End” clearly is not here for TSTO. In fact, we’re not even certain what “The End” would look like. But when it comes to “The End,” there are a few things on which everyone must agree…
First and foremost…the end is inevitable…and WILL HAPPEN.
However, as I have discussed this before. For those who walk this earthly plain (or run…or stumble…or crawl) there is the age-old argument about age, “quality-vs-quantity.”
It’s easy for youngsters and even those of us who “still have a few clicks on the meter,” to reason that we don’t want to end our lives being “out of it…infirm…and physically distressed.” But, 2020 has been one of those years that has made us all realize that while death is not negotiable, how, where, and when you die may be…mostly.
With TSTO, we can predict that we will simply continue to “keep the patient on life-support,” playing the same format for events, over and over again. But, take it from one who knows what it is like to tend to an aging elder, at least with TSTO, the stories are changing!
I know this sounds mean…and in some ways it is. But, one of the benchmarks of “living to a ripe old age,” is that your memory for anything recent fades, while you cling to the memories you know best…and repeat them as if they have never been spoken before. The real test of someone who is a caregiver, is the ability to listen to every story, and respond as if it were the first time it was being told.
I am not that person.
So yes…TSTO at least has a writer(s?) who is keeping the content dialogue fresh, even though we are in the full-on “repeat cycle” of the actions that take place during every event. Trust me on this; when you are in the final life chapter, the only thing that changes much is reading material, and what you have for dinner. Everything else is routine. In fact, some would argue, that it is that very routine the sustains life. Change, alter, interrupt that routine, and you are likely hastening “The End” or at the very least, subjecting yourself to an unending barrage of “why are we doing it this way…I have always done it that way!!” But, I digress…
If I am to predict “The End” for TSTO, it will come when “The End” comes from the actual show on which it is based. This is a business. As long as the Simpsons shows signs of life, there is no reason to euthanize TSTO. It clearly doesn’t cost as much to keep the game on life support, compared to the profit it is making after expenses. So someone is still buying donuts with real money.
About now, many (if not most) of you are screaming, “WHAT IS ALL OF THIS TALK ABOUT DEATH? THIS IS SUPPOSED TO BE ABOUT THE GAME!!!”
Well, for me and my family and friends, 2020 has pretty much been one un-ending reminder that death is real. It comes when it is expected…or not expected…and is almost never easy or just.
Some people go suddenly, from accidents, or heart failure, or aneurysms. Out of the now 7 friends and relatives that have passed over the most recent 12 months, 3 check the box in that category.
Then there are the “sudden onset or recurrence of a fatal disease, such as cancer.” The other 4 met that criteria.
None died of Covid…alone in a room, unable to see friends or relatives. None were part of the now more than 210,000 who didn’t even know what Covid was a few months ago. So much for the “knowing how this goes,” part.
Those without covid, or a sudden death by category “A,” likely had the chance to work through the final days with family, in their own home.
I admit that I always marvel at the Obituaries that start with, “He passed to his final place in heaven peacefully, surrounded by his loving family.” That is the Hallmark Card version of reality. I reality, in almost every case, the person involved in “The End” simply wears out, and doesn’t have the energy to fight anymore. It’s not so much “going gracefully, as going because there’s no more juice left in the battery. No more fight. Because, it is natural to keep fighting.
People simply don’t want to believe it is “The End,” until they don’t have the energy left to keep fighting reality. Lots of things in life are that way. We often continue to believe in an outcome, far after the inevitable is obvious.
My wife lost her Dad this summer. My Mom is currently in rehab, after taking a fall and lying alone for 22 hours, because she refused to wear her Medic Alert bracelet because it was “too uncomfortable.” She is 88. She has severe physical impairments, and is in mid-stage dementia, but up to this point, has refused to allow anyone to live with her, or let us move her to an adult living facility. We are now working to get her home for what will be weeks of waiting for “the End,” which will likely not be as anyone planned…but will have the same conclusion.
I have told my kids repeatedly, that at the first sign of dementia, or being a hindrance to my family, I am going to get in a boat, and sail west. Doing my impression of the “Old Man and the Sea,” as I fade away into the sunset. And no…none of them have suggested I buy a boat now.
However, my daughters being daughters, know that they could never really let go that easily, and have told me that they will wait until I am addled enough not to realize that they have just put me into a lake, where I can play out my “dream” while being watched easily from the shore. Our family is a laugh riot.
Having had an NDE in the mid-1990s, I have had a very different relationship with death. I don’t find the need to cling to another person’s version of “what’s next,” as I am fairly certain that “next” is unlike anything written in religious texts or popular media. But, I do know that energy is eternal…whether it continues in the same sentient “personal” state or not is up for grabs.
TSTO will end. And when it does, all that will be left are the “screen grabs,” of our experiences. Life is like that. It continues as long as those who knew and loved you, continue to invoke your memory. A life well lived, full of kindness and doing things for others, insures some kind of future “reincarnation.”
But for me…the definition that most recently “hit it right on the head,” was the amazing writing on the show, “The Good Place.” While the writing is from the talented and deep-thinking Michael Schur, the concept is very much a combination of Budhism and Quantum Physics, which is pretty much where I land in the discussion of “how all of this works.” But that is another discussion, for another time…and another place.
These words are beautiful…and should give some sense of comfort as to the immortality of our essential being.
From the final episode of “The Good Place.”
“Picture a wave. In the ocean. You can see it, measure it, its height, the way the sunlight refracts when it passes through. And it’s there. And you can see it, you know what it is. It’s a wave.
And then it crashes on the shore and it’s gone. But the water is still there. The wave was just a different way for the water to be, for a little while. You know it’s one conception of death for Buddhists: the wave returns to the ocean, where it came from and where it’s supposed to be.”
TSTO is much like life. It has a beginning, and end, and a lot of history in between.
When TSTO Ends…it will simply slip back into the digital ether…part of a greater lexicon of game memory. But for now…let’s just enjoy what time we are given. Diminished, and yet still here.
Because, as we learned from the rest of this amazing final episode, the best part about life, is NOT knowing what is next. It is the surprises, good and bad that make life worth living. There is nothing more mundane than predictability. And the real secret of life may be the tee-shirt saying, “live every day as if it is your last.”
So, while 2020 may truly be one of the worst years in modern memory, let’s all admit that we don’t know…but can only hope that it gets better from here. Whatever “better” means to you.