To the Editor:
Life is fraught with risks. Many are unavoidable. I have to use a step ladder to change my smoke alarm batteries and did you see how many warning labels are on a simple ladder? I needed my car for shopping today and a driver on the inside lane of a roundabout thought she would continue on the inside past the second exit. I avoided her crashing into me by inches (if that)!
People slip in the shower, are burned in the kitchen, die from faulty furnaces or space heaters, tumble down stairs, and so on. It seems that staying home has its own set of dangers.
Many of us choose to participate in somewhat risky activities. I have had three motorcycles and in my home state of Pennsylvania, we are not required to wear a helmet. A hot uncomfortable helmet takes away from the experience but riding motorcycles is dangerous, helmet or not.
I had an antique Corvette T-Top with no roll bar and no seat belts. My favorite vehicle of all time was my pre-airbag Jeep Wrangler with the top and doors removed.
I have been hunting since I was 12 years old. Accidental shootings while hunting are not uncommon. My father’s best friend was shot and wounded. When hunting deer in Pennsylvania I had the pleasure of looking down the wrong end of the barrel when another hunter heard me coming and was ready to fire when I stepped into view. In Wyoming, a herd of antelope ran between myself and another hunter but did he wait before firing? No way! I hugged the prairie for dear life as three bullets went zinging just over my head. Now I have my sights set on hunting some Florida feral hogs. The hogs are very intelligent, aggressive, and dangerous … can’t wait!
I ride my bicycle on the cart paths and have narrowly avoided being hit multiple times by other carts and cyclists not paying attention. The people who I see cycling on Morse Boulevard are really tempting fate.
Golfing can be fatal and I have seen it. I worked as a RN in my hometown hospital & we had a popular golf resort within its service area. Our ER had numerous cases of broken bones from cart accidents, lacerations, heat stroke, alcohol poisoning, etc. When I worked as a coroner in the adjacent county there was a case in which a husband was killed by his wife as he was “teaching” her how to play golf. She said her grip slipped and the club struck him in the head. It was ruled an accident as she was the only witness. The lesson; safety in numbers – always bring a witness.
I love fatty foods and my big fat juicy burger is a heart attack waiting. A good cigar on occasion and a cigarette when the wife isn’t looking is the real deal! I actually like to smoke and never worry about cancer. The real threat to life is if my wife finds out!
Statistically speaking, flying is accepted as a safe form of travel. I have only flown twice, to Europe and back, but I was like “Mister T” on the “A-Team.” I had to be medicated so heavily I was unconscious when the plane was still on the taxiway & remained so for 7 of the 8 hours of flight. I know that fear of flying is irrational but…so is the fear of a pesky virus with only a death rate that is a fraction of a percentage. You knew the segue to COVID was coming, didn’t you?
Soon most people will have been vaccinated or are already immune as a result of having had COVID. You would think we could be done with masks, distancing and all of the fear. Wrong! Now, depending on what expert you want to believe, we are to continue to wear masks & practice social distancing…until when…forever? Enough is enough!
Life is a risky business but if we shrink away from it, what kind of life is that anyway? Did we shy away from occupations that carried risk and did we discourage our children from becoming police officers, soldiers, sailors, fire fighters, pilots, doctors, nurses, steelworkers, etc. because of the potential risk of being injured, infected or dying of a job related incident?
I am a retired ER nurse, paramedic, and coroner. I have seen death in its many guises; shootings, stabbings, drownings, burns, vehicle wrecks, electrocutions (even a lightning strike), bridge jumpers, construction accidents and that is just a bit of the trauma.
Then comes death from the real killer diseases; heart disease, cancer, emphysema, diabetes, kidney failure, and on and on. Death from sports – parasailing, mountain biking, swimming, running, climbing, etc. Young, old, and in-between, death does not discriminate. I would never claim to have seen it all but I’ve seen enough for this lifetime.
Other than children, I rarely felt sad at deaths which occurred even at relatively young ages. I have seen what happens to a person as they age. If you live long enough it is (almost) a certainty that you will lose all of your mental faculties and control of your bodily functions. My father used to say that he didn’t mind getting old because so many don’t get the chance. Then he developed dementia and became so weak he lived his last 18 months confined to his bed. Maybe if he could have seen the ending in store for him, he might have revised that statement.
I would rather live a bit recklessly, enjoy life to the fullest, and take my chances than never really having lived at all, but damn, here I am at 67 years old, still healthy and going strong. Few of us know when or how the end will come. Maybe COVID will be the end of me or you but to live in unrelenting fear has got to be worse than death!
My point is that if fate or your god or the universe has you marked for death in the near future, do you really want to spend your last few precious days/months/years hiding behind a mask, avoiding people, avoiding family and enjoyable activities, living in fear, and rarely venturing outside the home because a small percentage of people (who by and large already have issues) have died? Yes, the millions of deaths worldwide attributed to COVID do seem staggering but when compared to a world population of billions, the actual percentage is very small.
The more we age, it seems, the more cautious we become. It has nothing to do with maturity and wisdom. Our death that once seemed so far away is now closing in as we turn to the obituary section of the news every morning. For a person who has lived a full & enjoyable life, why suddenly stop living now? That nursing home bed awaits replete with adult diapers, thickened liquids, and pureed foods. Is that the future we are saving ourselves for?
We are already dying. Pope Paul VI once said, “Somebody should tell us, right at the start of our lives, that we are dying. Then we might live life to the limit, every minute of every day. Do it I say! Whatever you want to do, do it now! There are only so many tomorrows.”
John Augustus Shedd was an American author and professor. In 1928 he penned “Salt from My Attic,” a collection of aphorisms and apothegms in which he noted, “A ship in harbor is safe, but that is not what ships are built for.”
Life is to be lived to the fullest. One of my motorcycles came from an Erie, Pa. motorsports dealer who had a great advertising slogan. Perhaps not on a par with quotes from the Pope or Professor Shedd but nonetheless it seems appropriate for me to use it in closing; “Get Out and Play!”
Village of Bradford