It is are home
from their movie. Looking out, I see three men spread out in the
backyard we share with our neighbors, one moving slowly past the patio
furniture where we had a child's birthday party that afternoon, the
other two crouched by the trampoline my son and his football buddies
slept out on last week. Strangers in our space, clearly visible in the
moonlight, probably carrying guns.
When death comes
like the hungry bear in autumn,
when death comes and takes all the bright coins from his purse
To buy me, and snaps the purse shut,
when death comes
like the measle-pox
When death comes
like an iceberg between the shoulder blades,
And therefore I look upon everything
as a brotherhood and a sisterhood,
and I look upon time as no more than an idea,
and I consider eternity as another possibility,
And I think of each life as a flower, as common
as a field daisy, and as singular,
And each name a comfortable music in the mouth,
tending, as all music does, toward silence,
and each body a lion of courage, and something
precious to the earth
I don't want to end up simply having visited this world. When it's over, I want to say: all my life
I was a bride married to amazement.
I was the bridegroom, taking the world into my arms.
When it is over, I don't want to wonder
And suddenly, just as suddenly as those gunshots awakened me, I too don’t want to end up simply having visited this world, or even this neighborhood. I don’t want to end up angry or bitter. No, I
want to believe in my heart that each life, and each name, and each
body is indeed something precious, both to God and to me. I want to
remarry amazement.if I have made of my life something particular, and real.
I don't want to find myself sighing and frightened,
or full of argument.
I don't want to end up simply having visited this world.
I wrote this
up the day after it happened, early in the summer. Honestly, two days
after that, life on Hemlock Street went back to normal, which is to
say, life for us and our friends here went back to being pretty
terrific. We might be more fearful if such thugs came that close again,
or if they were aiming at us, but they haven’t, and they aren’t, so
we’re not. If you really want to scare us these days, forget bullets
and focus on that force of evil which truly threatens to destroy the
good life we share here in Walnut Hills: Bedbugs. Think I’m kidding?
Read next month’s letter.
For as long as I have been writing Christmas letters, I have assumed the folks reading were better off and more stable than our neighbors here in Walnut Hills. This year, however, I am not so sure.
Oh, I know the economic crisis hasn’t brought you down to worried-about-your-next-meal status, but I also know that most of us don’t measure our well-being in absolute terms.
I became vaguely aware of Philip K. Dick a decade ago. An author of more than 100 works of science fiction, he died suddenly in 1982 just as his work began to be recognized by the mainstream. This was the year that Blade Runner, which was based on Dick's Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?, was released in theaters. In the years since then, more of Dick's body of work -- which often deals with questions of metaphysics, delusions and self-identity -- has seeped into the public consciousness. The films Minority Report, Total Recall and A Scanner Darkly are all based on his work.