I have savored every instant of my ninety-two years. Every one. Even the tragic and painful ones have reminded me that I am alive. And what do we live for if not for the constant reminder that we do live.
A life as lengthy as mine has experienced much and witnessed more: exhilarating joys and triumphs, excruciating grief and sorrow — all of them, in a smattering of instances, within breaths of each other. Even as I might choose not to relive some, there are many I would happily revisit. Even as I might prefer specific world events not to have occurred, each has brought into my life treasured gifts that I might otherwise never have known. Even had I not been endowed with such longevity, I would have embraced my years with no less passion and seized each moment with no less gusto.
However drawn-out our interval on this earth, it will come to a finite end for all of us. Let others preach of afterlives and squander limited heartbeats on the futile expectation of a better world beyond this one. I say there is no world beyond this one. I say there is but this moment and the accumulation of connected moments that, in the end, adds up to a lifetime. One lifetime. A single opportunity. We can either choose to live that opportunity to its fullest or we can choose to squint at it from the fringes while all its richness, potency and, yes, ferocity pass us by.
Should my view of the hereafter prove erroneous, I shall unhesitatingly step into whatever nirvana awaits me and dive into its delights with no less zeal than I have into those offered me through this span of existence. Regardless, near as I am to its inevitable conclusion, I will not trade the certainty of this life for the chimera of a next one.
Whatever fixed time remains to me is as precious as all the years that have preceded it, and I am determined to live it out as uncompromisingly as this decaying body will allow. Tonight, it favors me with a full moon gleaming through the window, a fire sinuating in the grate, a snifter of Armagnac in my hand and, of course, these words.
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