Up late this morning. A little unusual for me.
You ever feel like life is just futile?
Yesterday after my morning ritual (make a latte, check the email and cowtippers, read the news online) I browsed some articles about Christianity and Buddhism and when my wife left with the kids to one of her family reunion things I wandered out to my shop. Most of the rest of the day I spent slowly working on my camp box. “Camp box” doesn’t quite describe the thing, it’s a 4 x 8 x 4 foot …what, cabin?… which was the top part of my camp trailer that I separated from the trailer itself. It’s designed as a mobile camping container with everything one needs in various compartments.
Back to futility.
A couple months ago when we were putting down our garden I commented to my wife how that in a short few years all the hard work we were doing would mean nothing. The garden would not exist, our house might not even exist, we soon will not exist. Considering the age of the universe we’re not even flashes in the pan. What is our purpose? Why are we sentient? Why are we stuck in such ridiculously fragile bodies for such a short time with the ability to know so much (though admittedly we know very little over-all) and be so unable to DO or GO or SEE ….. the universe itself.
This morning I was browsing the news and ran across yet another couple of writers who have published dozens of papers, books, hundreds of articles. One guy, a shrink professor, had a very long list of degrees, honors, papers, books, you name it. How can one guy do all that? But even all he has done will have no meaning in half a century. A few decades from now his writing will sound archaic.
Sometimes I drag myself through the day feeling like my arms and legs are made of lead. What’s the use? In a few short years all the work I put into that camp box will be gone to nothing. It’ll be rotted away, the tools and equipment rusted or rotted, tossed aside. I’ll be too old or decrepit to go camping. Maybe there won’t BE any place to go camping. Maybe in a few years we won’t even have the freedom to camp.
Some fourteen years ago my wife and I moved to this patch of woods and I worked for almost a year building a very unique and redneck-esque cabin. It was a doozy, high lean-to pitched roof, sleeping loft, 20 x 20 foot bottom floor. It was framed with timbers cut on the land. The stairs were made from pine timbers split with a chain-saw. My dad, my brother, and I worked on the monster. My wife and I lived in it. For over a year we hauled our water until we put a 1000′ pipe along the ground and filled our barrels from my wife’s grandma’s garden hose. We had a wood stove for heat and a gas propane stove to cook with. One winter morning I woke to find a two inch ice-cycle hanging from the kitchen faucet! We had a few good times and some of the worst times while living in that cabin. My dad helped build it. We were living there when he died.
Now, like my dad, that cabin is just a memory. Unable to treat the timbers they got eaten up from the bottom while the house lay empty when we lived a year and a half in Mesquite and I worked in Seagoville. It was a move of necessity, the only job I could find. When we moved back the house was a bit fragile. It had settled on a corner. Six months after dad died we bought a mobile home and a year or so later I tore the cabin down. All Gone.
I have a little “shrine” for my dad. On the shelf with other memento’s are two pieces of a wagon wheel, the steel center hub and one of the bands that held the wooden part of the hub. Dad and I were walking around where he grew up in Arkansas once and he found them lying on the ground. At one time they were the parts to a gate on a fence that surrounded his boyhood home. Now, nothing is there. Nothing. Nearby I remember a model-T car tire with a large tree growing through it. All those memories, all the work my dad and his family put into their little homestead, all gone. The whole family gone too.
We are born. We live. We die.
Buddha said life is suffering and it is suffering because we are born. He taught that the only way to end suffering, the “thousand natural shocks that flesh is heir to,” (Hamlet) is to recognize how temporary everything is and train our mind to detach from things. This is probably a good idea. Life is heartache and melancholy. Life is short and fruitless, whether we’re a well known scholar or a backwoods bohemian. All the good times and the love and the joy we share from day to day will evaporate in a puff of celestial time, gone forever.
There’s not really a point to this post today. It’s just another futile post in a futile world.
And now the family is up and it is time to start another futile day.
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