My 4-lb. book arrived today: “The Stand,” by Stephen King, the uncut edition. I’ve read it before, although the last time was many years ago. Given the backdrop of the lunacy of the superflu in the book, this book seems both macabre and appropriate.
It’s fitting on several levels. Most importantly, there’s a minor character in the book who shares my birth name. The Walking Dude kills him. After 53 years and 5 days, my footprint on this world isn’t much more lasting. My greatest achievement has been to avoid the certain path that my upbringing imprinted on me.
When I opened the packaging imprisoning the book, I handed it to my wife, saying, “It might be the last book I ever read.”
“Don’t say that!” she chided, even as the weight of it surprised her.
Like everyone else, we both knew that it could indeed be the last book I buy. I said it in humor, an absent-minded quip, motivated mostly by its length.
We may have all passed innumerable and unseen last experiences.
It’s always been this way.
The difference today is that few of us can keep the curtain closed – or our furrowed brow of concern camouflaged behind busy lives. It’s the pace of our previous lives that kept us from sitting in silent concern.
For many, the whirlwind is subsiding, leaving the evidence of unexamined lives and unappreciated pleasures.
The Stand ended with victory for the world, as it continued on.
Nothing was the same.
And so it will be for us, if we are lucky.