Friday, December 16, 2011

A Cache of Acorns

A friend asked the other day why I am so obsessed with writing. “Life’s getting shorter every day; you shouldn’t spend all your time writing.”

Actually, that is exactly why I spend so much time writing. Fervently as I hope and much as I may want and intend to live forever, I realize it is unlikely in the extreme, and that some day I will no longer be here physically. And on the same general principle as squirrels tucking away acorns for the coming winter, I want to leave as much of me behind as I possibly can.

The subject of one’s own mortality is one I sometimes believe the human mind is really incapable of fully understanding or even recognizing, and the thought of knowing when you are going to die is one I simply cannot grasp. Yet I’m not and never have been afraid of death itself; it’s the idea that there will come a time when I am no longer able to dream, or write, or get angry over petty little things, or talk with friends, or laugh, that truly shakes me. I grieve for that time, and for myself.

So, like an obsessed squirrel, I have set out to store away, through my writing, as many bits and pieces of those non corporeal things that make up who I am. I want to keep reaching out to others, just as I am reaching out to you now, long after I’ve returned to that eternal nothingness that was interrupted only briefly by my existence.

It’s all summed up in a poem you might already have seen, but because it is so germane to the subject at hand, I’ll repeat here.

Words as Amber

The need to write; the will, the drive
to leave some proof I was alive
for future years—so they may know
I once was here, and loath to go.

A face caught in a photograph;
a tombstone’s faded epitaph
are all that most men leave behind
no hint of soul, or heart, or mind.

They live awhile in memories
till those who knew them also cease
and go the way of those before,
to be remembered nevermore.

If I believed in heaven, then
it might not matter if or when
others might know that I was here;
like them felt joy and pain and fear.

But words are amber: caught within,
the essence not contained by skin;
to read mine is a gift you give,
for when you do, once more I live.

I rest my case.

Dorien's blogs are posted by 10 a.m. Central time every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. Please take a moment to check out his website ( and, if you enjoy these blogs, you might want to check out
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C. Zampa said...

You know, Dorien, whatever waits for us after this present life may contain twice as many friends and laughs. I'm hoping so.

Beautiful poem! So very beautiful.

Dorien/Roger said...

Carol, I would love to think you are right. But as a confirmed agnostic, I simply cannot believe, much as I might want to, that there is an afterlife of any kind. We simply return to the same state of nothingness from which we emerged. (And I don't find that the least bit negative or frightening.)