“But the further away I get from that life the more I realize there is always somebody waiting to take our place. What I did mattered, but only for the time I was doing it. Now, somebody else has filled the shoes I once thought only I could wear.”
One hundred years from now
I took a walk today, slow at first, then faster until I was almost running. Then I was running, not a graceful sprint by any means, just arms and legs pumping, my heart racing, feeling good just to be alive and well. The neighborhood where I now live is like a park where people planted homes. Different trees sprout different flowers; the ground erupts with different colors every day. The grass, freshly cut this weekend glistens with moisture from an early morning shower, only now the sun has appeared, and with the warmth the water evaporates giving the air a freshly showered feel.
No cars today, most people are at work. It’s just me and the birds. When I think my heart is ready to explode I slow down and stroll the last half-mile, simply enjoying the sounds around me. A fox sprints away from my bird feeder as I walk up my driveway. He looks a little old, gray around the whiskers and not as fast as you might think a fox would be. My neighbor who knows everything told me that foxes are not necessarily nocturnal, so rabies probably isn’t a factor. Too bad Mr. Fox didn’t hang around; we could have had breakfast together. I’ve been told my Grandfather had a pet fox named Reginald. Maybe I’ll catch this guy and keep him.
We scramble around, working like a fools; taking care of this, of that, taking care of everything we need to take care of so the paychecks don’t stop, trying to make a difference, thinking we have, hoping it isn’t all for nothing. We all know, deep down in that place we seldom go that in a hundred years us and every person living now, at this moment will be gone, and all new people will inhabit the earth. The overpowering urge to do something that matters dominates our thoughts when we think of things like that, how fleeting our time here actually is, and how soon we will be forgotten. It’s a crazy world we live in; I wonder if it will be as crazy for the people who will replace us in a hundred years.
That I was a Rescue Captain on one of the busiest ALS vehicles in the country counted for something – I think. At least I tell myself so. But the further away I get from that life the more I realize there is always somebody waiting to take our place. What I did mattered, but only for the time I was doing it. Now, somebody else has filled the shoes I once thought only I could wear. The past is over, the future a mystery and the present just a gift that slips through our fingers before we are able to truly grab hold of it.
I delivered babies, pulled people from wrecked cars, administered the right drugs at the right time and truly made a difference in those people’s lives, most of the time. Yet more often I dwell on the other times, those times when everything I did made no difference at all, and all I could do was wonder about what had been lost.
I decided to let the fox go.
By Michael Morse
From the Providence Journal June 6, 2019