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Endpoint

Posted in Uncategorized by sndybeech on July 13, 2010

Reading John Updike’s poem “Endpoint”, begun the day he turned 70 and added to on his birthday for several years and then more often as his health declined.

One of the passages that resonates is:
… he thinks that Mother, Father, mailman, and
the wheezy doctor with his wide black bag
exist for him, as so they do, or did.

A fine writer can make us realize our ‘unique’ thoughts aren’t.

I was in the 2nd or 3rd grade when the teacher asked us if New York City existed and we all, of course, said Yes. Have you been there? No. How do you know it’s real then? Maybe you’ve been lied to.

I did not take from her the lesson intended. I turned it into a version of the Truman Show–maybe the world existed for me. Maybe nothing existed until my life required it. When I went to New York it would come into being. Everything, even my rejections, were to make my life the way it ought to be.

I’m beyond that now, of course, but not beyond the necessity of my being. I think about all the amazing people who have lived and they all departed. Eleanor Roosevelt died. Einstein died. Updike. There is no one so special, so virtuous, so important that they do not die. I give myself lectures but still I do not want to believe it for myself.

There was the time I lay in the hospital waiting for a surgery that clearly the doctors worried I was too weak to survive. I looked out the window thinking ‘that may be the last tree I ever see.’  It wasn’t that I wanted to die but I was so weak, so tortured by the treatment, life I was not delicious and I had lost most of my will.

Since recovering over 30 years ago, I’ve come to believe on, some gut level, that I can survive anything. Now my inner lecture is: you not only could die soon, you must die and twenty years would be amazing. Ten would be good. Get over it. You are special to you. Everyone you’ve lost was special too. Special doesn’t save anyone! Accept it. A little voice is saying embrace it and a bigger one says Bullshit.

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One Response

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  1. Victoria Stoppiello said, on January 24, 2011 at 8:38 pm

    Really enjoyed the “endpoint” piece, laughed at the self-recognition. Me too, another 20 maybe, or 10…I’m 66 and Anthony’s 69, so anything could happen, but hasn’t given us any clues about what or when. I guess we have to enjoy the lives we have and try to behave so that we don’t have regrets.


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