#writephoto — The Long Walk

34416887-00AC-41B3-BFF4-821FF8F185D9Eric stopped, lowered his large backpack onto the surface of the road, and took a sip of water from his water bottle. His gaze followed the road that led across the valley toward the foothills in the distance. He looked at his Apple Watch to check his progress. It had clocked 28,321 steps for the day so far. At his stride, that equated to about 13.6 miles. His goal was 20 miles a day and he felt pretty damn good about his prospects for hitting today’s daily target. Less than six and a half miles to go. Piece of cake.

Five Days Earlier…

“You’re doing what?” his daughter, Shana, said when he first told her and her brother, Jesse, about his plans.

“Dad, you’re 67 years old,” Jesse said. “What are you trying to prove?”

“I’m trying to prove that I’m alive, son,” Eric said. “Ever since your mother passed last summer, I’ve been kind of lost, my life without purpose, without meaning. I’ve always been driven by a sense of accomplishment and if I don’t set a goal for myself and work toward achieving that goal, I might as well just roll over and die, too.”

“But Dad,” Shana said, “don’t you think this plan of yours is a bit extreme?”

“Walking 20 miles a day is not extreme,” Eric said. “I used to walk almost that much nearly every day when our dog was still alive.”

“Bandit died ten years ago, Dad,” Jesse pointed out.

“Listen, I’m going to do this and I’d appreciate your support, you two,” Eric said.

“You’re a stubborn old man,” Shana said, “but of course you have our support. Whatever you need, Dad.”

“Thank you, honey,” Eric said. “What about you, Jesse?”

Jesse rolled his eyes and nodded his head. “When are you planning to leave?” he asked.

“On Monday,” Eric said.

“And how long will it take?” Shana asked.

“If all goes according to plan, between five and six months,” Eric said. “That assumes I can consistently log around twenty miles a day.”

“Has anyone your age ever done anything like this before, Dad?” Shana asked.

“I don’t know, sweetheart,” Eric answered, “but I’m not trying to set or break any records. I’m doing it because I need to do something challenging and different.”

“Well, Dad,” Eric said, “I’d say that a 67 year old man walking from San Diego, California to Portland, Maine will satisfy both.”


Written for this week’s Thursday Photo Prompt from Sue Vincent.

The Game of Life

Blogger Melanie, over at Sparks from a Combustible Mind, posted a series of questions (along with her answers) on the philosophy of living life that she got from A Guy Called Bloke. As one of the great life philosophers in the blogosphere, I felt compelled to respond. So here goes.


Q1] What is your take on ‘free will?’

If it’s free, I will take it.

Q2] We all ask ourselves at one time or another what is the point? So what is the point to our existence?

The point is to stay sharp.

Q3] What is your belief on fate and Karma?

It’s explained here.

Q4] As a species, how do you think humans will become extinct or do you believe that we will not?

Yes.

PQ5] What is your belief with regards the meaning of life?

Life is a game.1537EB0E-A316-4AA0-BB71-DAA64732E0BE

Q6] Ok, fess up, do you believe in aliens from outer space – is there really other life out there in the far reaching galaxies beyond our own?

I hope there is intelligent life elsewhere in the universe because if we are the only intelligent life in the vastness of space, that doesn’t say much for the universe.

Q7] What is your best quote for ‘living life?’

“Live every day like it’s your last.”

Q8] What doesn’t kill us – makes us stronger – yes or no? Explain.

Yes. Or weaker, depending upon exactly what it was that didn’t kill us.

Q9] What would you say have been your biggest successes in life?

Given some of the asinine things I’ve done, my biggest success is that I’m still alive.

Q10] If you could find out the exact time and cause of your death – would you want to know?

According to deathclock.com, my life will end on January 28, 2020. It didn’t specify what the cause will be, but I hope it will be peacefully in my sleep.

Q11] Is it more important to help yourself, help your family, help your society, or help the world?

As a pseudo-solipsist, it’s more important to help myself.

Q12] If humanity was put on trial by an advanced race of aliens, how would you defend humanity and argue for its continued existence?

I’d plea bargain and offer to cooperate with the prosecution.

Q13] What is the biggest waste of human potential?

Donald Trump.

Q14] We often see those that write ‘what would you say to a younger you?’ However, what would you say today to a future you?

First I’d say, “I’m sorry.” Then I’d say, “You’re still alive? Good for you!”

Q15] Why do you think that as a species, humans need to believe in something? Be this religion, fate, karma, magical, mystique, and so on.

As an atheist, I am not sure I agree with the premise of this question. That said, I do believe, above all else, in family.

Q16] If we could not retain any of our memories – who would we be?

We would be suffering from either amnesia or Alzheimer’s.

Q17] Time is such an important part of our world, but do you think you would notice if time was altered in any way?

The older you get, the faster time goes by, so time already has been altered.

Q18] How important is play in living a healthy and fulfilling life?

Life is a game that we all play.

Q19] With no laws or rules to influence your behavior, how do you think you would behave?

Well, if there were no laws or rules, I’m not sure human beings would still be around. That said, I think I’d behave pretty much the same way I behave now.

Q20] Are you deleting any questions, if so which ones?

Nope, not one.

Q21] Should euthanasia be legal? Why or why not?

Yes. If someone is suffering, is in pain, and is terminal, they should be free to choose death with dignity…for themselves and for those they leave behind.

Feel free to copy and paste these same questions and answer them on your own.

Song Lyric Sunday — Heart of Gold

For this week’s Song Lyric Sunday theme, Helen Vahdati chose “heart.” I’ve always been a Neil Young fan, so when I saw this week’s theme, I naturally thought of Neil’s 1972 classic song, “Heart of Gold.”

A track from the album Harvest, “Heart of Gold” was Young’s only U.S. number one single. He wrote the song in 1971 after he suffered a back injury that made it difficult for him to play the electric guitar, so on the Harvest tracks he played acoustic guitar.

The song seems to be about a search for fulfillment and for the meaning existence. Or it may be a search for love (i.e., a heart of gold). He is not giving up his search, although he recognizes that part of the problem is that he holds back his own feelings, so doesn’t share his own heart.

As a point of interest, James Taylor and Linda Ronstadt sang backup on “Heart of Gold,” although they don’t come in until close to the end of the song.

Here are the lyrics to the song.

I wanna live, I wanna give
I’ve been a miner for a heart of gold
It’s these expressions I never give
That keep me searching for a heart of gold
And I’m getting old
Keeps me searching for a heart of gold
And I’m getting old

I’ve been to Hollywood, I’ve been to Redwood
I’ve crossed the ocean for a heart of gold
I’ve been in my mind, it’s such a fine line
That keeps me searching for a heart of gold
And I’m getting old
Keeps me searching for a heart of gold
And I’m getting old

Keep me searching for a heart of gold
You keep me searching and I’m growing old
Keep me searching for a heart of gold
I’ve been a miner for a heart of gold

Life’s Purpose

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A blogger I follow named Jayne, who posts at A Life Retired, left an interesting comment on my post titled Faith Versus Reason. She wrote, “After reading [that post] and the comments, I am left with a couple questions for all. In absence of faith, what happens after life? What was the purpose for living?”

Let me first say that I’m not in any way an authority on what happens after life or on life’s meaning or purpose. So what I’m expressing herein is nothing more than my personal opinion.

That said, one of the most common arguments I hear about disbelief in God is the idea that without God, life would seem to be utterly devoid of any real meaning or purpose.

From my perspective, a belief in God, in and of itself, is not what gives our lives purpose. We can find purpose within our own lives by achieving good relationships with our families and with other people, with our work, with the groups to which we belong, and with the deeds we do.

As to what happens when our lives end, I believe it’s the same as it was before our lives began. We didn’t exist. I believe that this life we live in this world, in the here and now, is all there is. And when it comes to an end, it’s over and out.

But rather than suggesting that our lives, therefore, have no meaning or serve no purpose, I see it differently. I believe that recognition of this inescapable fate makes our lives and the time that we do have in this world even more meaningful.

But that’s just my opinion. I could be wrong.