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Memento Mori
Memento Mori
by Ross Robertson
Memento Mori

The subject was Death last time, and I thought I'd leave it behind. Unexpectedly, an Immortal passes, so Death lingers longer in my mind.

Last time? No one can make time last. At the same, Time alone is everlasting. Time brings change, rebirth, renewal, yet the bastard keeps eating his own children.

Time is money. I'd always rejoined that Time is Life. Inwardly I've always known that Time is Death.

Thin, White, now Arch-Duke, throwing darts in lovers' eyes, always charming, always entertaining, always tragic. He comes as he goes.

First Rule of the Warrior Arts: Accept Death. Second Rule? Keep sustaining the iteration of the first rule as long as you can.

Life is change, adaptation, mutation, evolution, intercourse and recombination.

Stasis is death. Yet if you constantly change, you cannot remain the same. You cannot remain. There's a worthwhile puzzle.

LIke any sensible creature, we fight and strategize for our survival. Being sentient, however, we know our survival is temporary, however we fight and win. So perhaps we invest in the Time beyond Our Own, breeding children and cities and monuments and artifacts and technologies. We program generative processes, hoping that generations will generate better, more durable goods -- a More Durable Good.

My Dad made it to 93, when a few weeks ago his heart and lungs stopped. We think 93 is impressive. With his and my mom's genes, I might make it to 100. If I do, I will feel the sorrow again and again as some of you now reading this die in your own turn before me. If I don't, then I will be spared at least some of that, but those of my survivors who care, will not. I can't say if that's a worthwhile puzzle.

The Man Who Sold the World stopped at only 69 turns of the Wheel. This I find shocking. He died two days ago as I write this, but because math is strange, his death at 69 is hardly more than a decade in my own future. Will I survive him twice? I'm not easily given over to idol worship, but he did mean a lot to me. (So did my Dad, obviously much more, but I was prepared for years in the First Rule.) I find I have beliefs I'm not aware of, and one of them now disinterred is that some of us simply should never die. Okay -- none of us, if I'm generous, because I like to think that even the worst among us must live and learn and grow and become increasingly durable, and through durability, more good.

"Durability" is a word I use a lot when I think about aikido. It seems central to what we are after, in many ways. "Dura" was also my Dad's middle name. Fun fact.

69 is a sexy number, but liver cancer? Shouldn't that be an oxymoron? But what is cancer, if not an excess of living? Ziggy Stardust lived a life of excess, but he turned himself into treasure and nourishment. That at least endures. Yes he was alright. The song went on forever.

Ah, now… forever. What is that, even? In Time to come, there may be a time when some very few of us can choose between Immortality and Eternal Life, but none, no not one, can have both.

Look. We're so close. Give us another century or two, uninterrupted and with few major distractions. We'll figure it out. We can start living. I mean, we can start living! As it is now, a few decades, give or take, maybe a century, ballpark, and that' not enough. We've got to have time to grow, to grow up, to mature, to solve worthwhile puzzles. We need to learn to live centuries after we get our basic needs met, to work on the really important things, the ones that take Time (the bastard!). After that, millennia. Before that, war, population, climate. Remember the Second Rule.

I'm writing to you because I believe in what we do. We can be a part of that which is sustaining, even though as warriors we are necessarily agents of change. But we really need to get busy, and step up the pace. We're running out.

It's not just Dad, or Davy Jones' locker, or even me. I've long known that I was nothing more than compost at best, so I do what I can to be good compost and to enjoy the turning of the heap.

It's not just my kids, or you, or your kids. It's everything. It's not even just our future, though it is most certainly that. But when that goes, so goes all our past. Everything. Everything you ever were, all that you care about and more -- all love, all caring, all gone. The risk is real. The threat is immanent.

News guy wept and told us: Earth is really dying

Better bone up on that Self Defense stuff, you.

I think I saw you in an ice-cream parlor
drinking milk shakes cold and long
Smiling and waving and looking so fine
don't think you knew you were in this song

Ross Robertson
Still Point Aikido Systems
Honmatsu Aikido
Austin TX, USA

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Old 04-04-2016, 02:06 PM   #2
Katie Parsoneault
Dojo: Still Point
Location: Austin, TX
Join Date: Feb 2005
Posts: 9
Re: Memento Mori

Ross, you have sustained so much loss recently -- your dad, Henry Kono, David Bowie, and many more I won't invoke here. We are sustaining a dear friend as he battles for his life, fighting against advanced, very advanced, cancer, accepting the fact of his death, and striving to do that as many times as he can. I watch another friend as she struggles to qualify for each weekly chemo session, and her circle of Facebook friends staunchly supports her, accepting it with her but reminding her that there are LIVE! messages everywhere, too. Another person whom I never met, but who is married to a former work colleague whom I respect, is accepting that death as she receives proton therapy for a brain tumor. So YES, we are reminded anew, from dust we came and to dust -- stardust -- we shall return. Thank you for helping me to better accept death, and to more fully live while I am alive. What more should a sensei be doing?
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