TO STAY IN LOVE WITH LIFE REQUIRES A CONSCIOUSNESS OF DEATH.
And this day it looks me in the eye. A fresh cougar track, only a stone's throw from my door, hinted at what was to come
Then this: Drag marks----I follow them--
To this! A cougar kill.
I look death in the eye---let it speak to me.
Death likely came upon it while it slept---grasp it by its throat. (The words of Livingston are somewhat comforting here---He was mauled by a lion in Africa and was rescued. He later reported that the incident while occuring was painless and that he watched with curiosity--not fear or horror at what was happening to him)
Of course the whole campground is now abuzz --- I show my neighbors---We all want to acquaint ourselves with death. Authorities are notified---warning signs are posted .
This was a close call---the cougar could have gotten me or one of these kids walking about.
I use the occasion to reflect on close calls---How thrilling to approach the "dangerous edge"---how just the previous week I deliberately camped on the very edge of this canyon--for some mysterious reason.
I remember considering this particular spot as a possible suicide place---when the time comes. Only about 3 seconds of terror---then blessed oblivion. I quickly rejected it as an unseemly burden on those who must come get the body. I will find a better spot --- to vanish.
Kids experiencing the thrill of near death---a 50 foot fall into Lake Heron, NM.
RANDY PHILOSOPHIZES:Life seems especially sweet after close calls---or perhaps just having a look at a death. I have deliberately risked my life a few times: I jumped a blowhole on the Oregon coast once---and another time leaped a crevasse with a hundred foot drop---felt exhilerated afterwards. Neither was any great feat---I just felt drawn to do it. Once I went about a quarter mile into an abandoned mine and In louisiana I paddled into a pitch black swamp---my heart raced---and then soon calmed down---and fear went away. I think all these experiences somehow blend into a larger truth about death putting urgency and even meaning into life. Victor Frankel's book, "Man's Search for Meaning" says that holocaust survivors emerged with an enhanced joy of just being alive. And Thoreau said: Living is so dear.
Once, I was camped with the WIN's (www.rvsingles.org) in the desert near Apache Junction when rattlesnakes emerged from hibernation. They were everywhere in our camp--under rigs---under doorsteps. IT WAS WONDERFUL-- everyone was on high alert---discussions were animated---laughter and aliveness filled the campground. Life seemingly had more meaning with death at our doorstep.