Soon and, Oh, So Very Soon

earthAccording to the World English Dictionary online, “soon” is an adverb that means “in or after a short time; in a little while; before long.”

If you are reading this, you already knew that, and soon you will stop reading because you will think I’m pointing out the obvious, and you will wonder (at least I would if I started reading this) why I bother to post this for the whole world (that is, about 100 people per day) to read.

According to the lyrics of a song that has been published, I’d guess, in every major church hymnal of the last 25 years,

Soon and very soon

We are going to see the King
Hallelujah, hallelujah,
We’re going to see the king
No more cryin there,
We are going to see the King

The lyricist-composer is six-time Emmy winner Andraé Crouch, popular gospel and rhythm and blues performer and composer.

‘‘Spirituality is the personal quest for understanding answers to ultimate questions about life, about meaning, and about relationships to the sacred or transcendent, which may or may not lead to or arise from the development of religious rituals and the formation of community’’ (p. 18). . . spirituality is a search for answers to ultimate questions that are related to a transcendent realm (1).

“. . . personal quest for understanding answers to ultimate questions.” I don’t like the word “spirituality” because people who don’t want to seem religious use it to mask the fact that, when they use it, they are in fact talking about religion. I don’t use words with unfailing precision, but I can see obvious dissimulation. You wanna be religious? be religious, don’t try to sound au courant by calling yourself “spiritual.”

“Soon” we are going to see the King.

For the person with a religious spirituality, the meaning of life involves the preparation for a destiny beyond the present life. . .  For most Christians, there is resurrection from the dead to join God in another life. . .   For the person with a nonreligious spirituality . . . Since there is no afterlife, the individual is motivated to build a ‘‘paradise’’ here on earth and to extend life for as long as possible to enjoy the fruits of his/her labors (2).

I recently read most of an article that posits a greater benefit from “religion” than from “spirituality” in relationship to longevity of life (3).

Our ability to prolong life  . . . adds urgency to the desire to find meaning in aging and dying. Questions such as what it means to age successfully and what is required to do so, and what it means to die well . . .  occupy an increasingly prominent place in both private conversations and those about health policy and medical care (4).

Isn't she loverly?

Isn’t she loverly?

What’s the difference between living to be 68 and living to be 98? If you’re thinking in terms of how you are going to feed yourself if you don’t have a $600,000 retirement fund stashed away in a 401K somewhere, it can seem like a long, long time. If you’re thinking in terms of the 4.54 billion years the earth has been spinning around the sun, it’s less than a nanosecond.

Perhaps I didn’t get started at it soon enough, but it seems a little late for me to be “. . . [involved in] the preparation for a destiny beyond the present life.”  I think perhaps I’ve also waited too long to get “. . . motivated to build a ‘‘paradise’’ here on earth and to extend life for as long as possible.” My desire to “.  . to age successfully and [discover] what is required to do so, and what it means to die well. . .” may be an exercise in futility at this point.

But I wonder.

The first requirement for dealing successfully with growing older is to acknowledge that it is inevitable and is in fact taking place every moment one is alive. And there is only one outcome of aging. Thus truly to accept one’s own aging, and the aging of others, is of necessity to acknowledge one’s mortality (5).

Since mortality is going to happen soon and very soon (in a nanosecond),

All I want is a room somewhere,
Far away from the cold night air.
With one enormous chair,
Aow, wouldn’t it be loverly?
Lots of choc’lates for me to eat,
Lots of coal makin’ lots of ‘eat.
Warm face, warm ‘ands, warm feet,
Aow, wouldn’t it be loverly?
Aow, so loverly sittin’ abso-bloomin’-lutely still.
I would never budge ’till spring
Crept over me windowsill.
Someone’s ‘ead restin’ on my knee,
Warm an’ tender as ‘e can be. ‘ho takes good care of me,
Aow, wouldn’t it be loverly
(6)?

A not so enormous chair

A not so enormous chair

Don’t get all squirrely on me. I’m not obsessed with death. I’m not in a Bipolar depression. I’m just thinking about how one figures out what’s important for getting through the nanosecond. At this point, I have more than one enormous chair, and I think I’ll be warm. It’s choc’lates that are the problem. And a ‘ead restin’ on my knee. Can one ever be sure of those?
_____________
(1) Cicirelli, Victor G. “Religious And Nonreligious Spirituality In Relation To Death Acceptance Or Rejection.” Death Studies 35.2 (2011): 124-146. Quoting Koenig, H. G., McCullough, M., & Larson, D. B. Handbook of religion and health: A century of research reviewed. New York, NY: Oxford University Press (2000).
(2) idem.
(3) David B. Larson, et al. “Spirituality in Physical Health and Aging.” Journal of Adult Development 7.2 (2000): 73-86.
(4) Schenck, David, and Lori Roscoe. “In Search of a Good Death.” Journal of Medical Humanities 30.1 (2009): 61-72.
(5) Sapp, Stephen. “Mortality And Respect: Aging in the Abrahamic Traditions.” Generations 32.2 (2008): 20-24.
(6) Lerner, Alan J. “Wouldn’t it be loverly?” My Fair Lady. Broadway Musical. 1956.

“All I want Is a Room Somewhere. . . “ or do I look like Audrey Hepburn?

Bought in Wisconsin, shipped to California, dragged to Iowa, Boston, Dallas

Bought in Wisconsin, shipped to California, dragged to Iowa, Boston, Dallas

Fifteen years ago my late partner bought a sofa. An ugly sofa. It was not one of those we had looked at together in furniture stores. I did not like it from the moment I opened the door and the delivery men asked where to put it, until I took it to the dump last year. My cats, on the other hand, loved it. Their claws sent it to the dump.

The cats did for me what I could not do for myself.

My late partner also bought a coffee table. Ersatz French Provincial with a glass top. Just the thing for some old queen’s home, but not mine. Two days ago I finally found the ottoman I’d been wanting for years to replace it. The curved legs are on their way out (if the Genesis Benefit Thrift Store truck ever arrives).

“The harmless spray solution is undetectable to you, but keeps most cats from scratching furnishings.”

“The harmless spray solution is undetectable to you, but keeps most cats from scratching furnishings.”

The ottoman is—I suppose—a bit flamboyant. RED. Red and overstuffed. Probably not less queenly than French Provincial, but—it’s mine!
I’m obviously asking for trouble from cats with claws. They ruined the sofa. Think what they can do with a small overstuffed ottoman.

The solution? ScratchNotTM Training Spray.  An all-over application. “The harmless spray solution is undetectable to you, but keeps most cats from scratching furnishings.”

My apartment is more graduate student thrift store modern than anything Nate Berkus would design. It hardly has the look of royalty. That’s partly because I’ve never thought it seemly to spend enough money on myself to make a place “mine.” I have the leftovers from my failed marriage (1967-1975—stuff I’ve dragged from California to Iowa to Boston to Dallas), my second “relationship” (1980-1988), and my third relationship (1992-2003) scattered all ‘round (not true—not “scattered” but at the core). And a few family heirlooms, including my paternal grandmother’s sewing machine. I also have about 1,000 books, many from my father’s library.

I’m a bit like Audrey Hepburn. No, not Eliza Doolittle, but Audrey herself. What you see is NOT what you get. Marni Nixon, as everyone knows, wanted the room somewhere. Marni did for Audrey what she could not do for herself.

All I want is an ottoman somewhere.

All I want is an ottoman somewhere.

What’s done is done for Audrey, but not for me. A new sofa and ottoman. Rid of chairs I moved from Boston to Dallas—chairs I never liked—and books (a giant giveaway a few months ago), Laser Disk recordings (200, including “My Fair Lady”), and more. On my new sofa is a needlepoint pillow my sister gave me that says, “The Queen has spoken” (by that decorator M.E. every gay boy in the country knows, but whose name I can’t remember). The queen has spoken:

“All I want is a room somewhere (here) with one enormous chair” I bought myself.

Oh, and, by the way, if you think ScratchNotTM Training Spray keeps cats off furniture, have a look. Groucho obviously thinks it’s loverly.

All I want is a room somewhere,
Far away from the cold night air.
With one enormous chair,
Aow, wouldn’t it be loverly?
Lots of choc’lates for me to eat,
Lots of coal makin’ lots of ‘eat.
Warm face, warm ‘ands, warm feet,
Aow, wouldn’t it be loverly?
Aow, so loverly sittin’ abso-bloomin’-lutely still.
I would never budge ’till spring
Crept over me windowsill.
Someone’s ‘ead restin’ on my knee,
Warm an’ tender as ‘e can be.
‘ho takes good care of me,
Aow, wouldn’t it be loverly?
Loverly, loverly, loverly, loverly.