If It Wasn’t For Me Your Last Breath Would Have Whispered “Wasted Life”

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MV Conversation

Future Time

“Do you remember the last time your world turned topsy-turvy? It should be a deja’vu experience for you. It took place in the same chair that you are sitting in now, and you were listening to the same music. Everything was going-to-black back then, too.”

“Yes, I remember,” I said, “I was depressed because nobody could understand me. I just couldn’t communicate what I wanted to.”

“Perhaps nobody was listening,” responded MV.

“Maybe,” I said, “but I’m pretty sure it was me. I couldn’t say what needed to be said. It was awful. I couldn’t cope, so I just gave up, and depression followed.”

“I wasn’t part of that,” responded MV.

“What’s that supposed to mean?” I said. “I wasn’t blaming you.”

“Good! I get blamed for everything,” said MV. “Let me tell you who’s to blame. It’s the big guy upstairs. If you want to blame somebody blame Him. It’s idealism you know. If idealism ceased to exist, suffering would be cut in half. Without idealism, I wouldn’t be out of a job, but I sure would be on a hell of a diet.”

“I’m an idealist?” I responded.

“Is the kettle black!” MV replied. “You’ve been that way ever since you heard that nursery rhyme where the spider scared away Little Mrs. Muffet; back then, standing straight up in your crib, you though “why fear?” It’s time to go now.”

“Hold on,” I said, “all I ever wanted to do was share what I believed with others. Is that asking too much? Everybody wants that; is that to much to expect?”

“Haven’t you heard; some beliefs have to be earned,” said MV. “It’s not enough to share them. Tell me that’s not breaking news for you!”

“Well, even if I didn’t know that back then, I do now.”

“You had to learn the hard way, didn’t you?” responded MV.

“I guess I did. When no ears hear, no words get spoken. What was I supposed to do, though? I wasn’t saying anything threatening, so why were my ideas rejected outright?”

“Hey, I’m just the witness, remember?” said MV. “If you want answers you need to ask someone else.”

“Now who’s playing coy?” I replied. “When I needed you in the past, or even when I didn’t, you never remained silent, and I know you know exactly what I’m talking about, so you should have spoken up, but you didn’t–why?”

“Why,” said MV, “You still got the message didn’t you?”

“I got it,” I replied, “but no thanks to you.”

“Don’t be so sure of that,” MV responded, “why do you think your words fell on deaf ears in the first place?”

“Enough of your double talk,” I said. “I know better than to listen to you. But I am thankful that I got the message– the message of family. Family puts God right smack in the middle of things.”

“Yep, you got it,” replied MV. “I suppose you deserve an ‘at-a-boy!”

“You bet I got it,” I replied, “It hit me like a rock; there I was clueless, and in the next instant, jubilation! To serve God, raising a family was enough. In that moment of revelation I decided to stop talking about what nobody could understand, and instead, find a wife and raise a family. I didn’t know what it took to be a parent—let alone a good parent, but I was ready to try. Actually, the adage ‘ignorance is bliss,’ when it comes to starting a family, is probably the best plan of action. There are other ways to serve God, of course, but for most, being a successful parent is as God-centered as it gets. I’m not saying I was perfect, actually I was a slow learner, but even in those times of desperation I didn’t give up. Family— the good, bad, and ugly—is a gift divine—and, I might add, a gift to the divine. That, for me, was my inspiration, as it was also my saving grace. It was what I had to do.”

“And all those memories were worth it?” replied MV.

“Absolutely,” I said. “It’s to bad family gets taken for granted far too often.”

“Your words belie the truth,” responded MV, “For many, family is a burden. Not that that’s bad. Its fertile ground for me, and you managed to get through it, but I haven’t heard one ‘thank you.’”

“What!” I exclaimed. “Are you saying that somehow you did it? You want credit for my family. I think not! I forced you out of my mind long ago. Quite frankly, I didn’t have time for you. Don’t tell me I owe you. That’s absurd. If this is the end, if my time is up, then I’m ready; but I owe you nothing!”

“Okay, at least for now,” responded MV, “but nobody goes quietly into that ‘last night,’ and without me you wouldn’t be going anywhere quietly. When we first met you were wasted on drugs, about to be pummeled into unconsciousness, and one angry son-of-a-bitch. Without me, you would have ended up nose down in the muck, rock-gut in your belly, and the whisper of a wasted life on your lips. Come on, admit it!”


“Maybe, nothing,” replied MV, “I’m your savior and you’re not man enough to admit it! Ever ask yourself, ‘Why me?’ Why did a mediocre nobody succeed, when many of the best and the brightest failed?”

“Luck I suppose,” I said. “It’s true in the lottery, why not here?”

“We’re not talking lottery,” replied MV. “Death is not a game! However, maybe, just maybe you do deserve some credit; after all, we’re still talking. Tell you what, I’ll give you more time, but remember, what I give I can take away! Let’s see, what did you accomplish anyway? Where do we begin; you tell me?”

I Was Only Able To Answer One Question-Why I Do What I Do

Judgment Day Continued

“I guess you could say it all began when I found out how freedom can coexist with cause and effect. Freedom got a whole lot more meaningful after that.”

“How so?” replied MV.

“Well, as best I can remember,” I said, “it all had to do with how different types of freedom come together. Our sensed freedom—the freedom to avoid the unpleasant while pursuing the pleasant—for instance, had the indirect effect of creating the environment where other freedoms get expressed. We are free, for example, to question our place in the environment and, hopefully, those investigations lead us to the further discoveries, discoveries of reliable predictions concerning our environment. As knowledge accumulates, expectations, goals, and even values change. The value and meaning of relationships change. What at one time was sought for pleasure becomes unattractive and so on and so forth. Sociologically, as regards logically consistent answers to our questions, we are free to change our behavior. We are free to grow wiser and more emotionally mature. What all this means for freedom, and this is what I tried to communicate back when nobody listened, is that the dynamic of freedom must be understood in terms of a liberation process that is in constant flux, especially if one values freedom!”

“Okay, I kind of get it,” MV replied, “so how did it go?”


“That first presentation,” MV responded, “How did it go?”

“Why ask me? You were there!” I said. “The presentation that started it all, the presentation where I didn’t yet have a full understanding of what I wanted to say, went remarkably well.”

“Just because I was a witness doesn’t mean I was ‘really’ there,” replied MV. “I’m not your twin, let alone privy to your inner feelings. So what does ‘remarkably well’ mean, anyway?”

“For a know-it-all,” I responded, “you’re not very bright! For as many times as I’ve been to bat on this one, you know I haven’t exactly hit the ball very well. My first time was beginner’s luck. The applause at the end was nice, too.”

“I thought so?” MV replied. “Your audiences just didn’t get or like the message!”

“Why do you think I stopped giving presentations,” I said. “People couldn’t or wouldn’t understand. My in
ability to speak well probably had something to do with it. It wasn’t all a waste, though, as I said before, freedom is growth, and I experienced lots of that.”

“Yeah, as I recall, at the first presentation you even recited a poem,” MV replied.

“That’s right,” I said. “I was lucky to remember it. In fact, the poem was what made it a good presentation. I invited Dr. Clifford, the Professor who taught Quantum Physics, and, surprisingly, he and his professor friend showed up. I guess he was curious, or maybe he just wanted to pester me with questions. God knows I pestered him with more than a few concerning quantum mechanics. In fact, the questions he asked at the presentation turned out to be instrumental in the development of the ideas that would later turn into a full-blown philosophy. Unfortunately, at the time, however, I was only able to answer one of his questions, the one about “why I do what I do.” I responded by referring to the poem that Faith Johnson, my Botany teacher, wrote on the blackboard. She loved teaching so much that she team-taught my Botany class without pay. Back then I could remember the poem. Today, I have to look to where it hangs on my wall. Here it is:

They set the slave free, striking off his chains…

Then he was as much of a slave as ever.

He was still chained to servility,

He was still manacled to indolence and sloth,

He was still bound by fear and superstition,

By ignorance, suspicion, and savagery…

His slavery was not in his chains,

But in himself.

They can only set free men free…

And there is no need to do that;

Free men set themselves free.

James Oppenheim


One Response to “If It Wasn’t For Me Your Last Breath Would Have Whispered “Wasted Life””

  1. wings Says:

    Yes, I love this poem. Very much.

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