I was sad today to note the SMH obituary written the passing of Bob Gould, a colourful Sydney figure variously described as: founder of the anti-Vietnam movement in Australia, Trotskyite, bibliophile, historian, union agitator, anti-censorship battler, bohemian, polemicist, Irish Catholic.
I only made the acquaintance of this big bear of a man as a frequenter of the ramshackle Third World Bookshop in Goulburn St., a place where you could find imports from the U.S., stuff that couldn’t be found anywhere else in Sydney.
His death got me thinking about two people in my life who have terminal illnesses, one who may pass within months, the other undetermined.
Life is so very precious, but we don’t remember to treat it that way, until our noses are pushed up against the fact that this time right now is all we have for appreciation, for connecting, for breathing, for living, until we don’t.
I don’t know when I started this quaint habit of reading the newspaper obituaries. As I get older, I guess I’m comparing. I look at the life span of someone like Gould, 1937-2011. That makes him just seven years older than me. What if seven years were all the time I had left? Do I have a “bucket list”? Not really.
My ex, who may die soon, says he has no bucket list and no regrets. Like Gould, he’s had a jam-packed life and been a seeker of justice in his own battles in big arenas.
For my part, I would like to be better at being in this exquisite moment of right now because – I don’t know how exactly to explain it because I haven’t had the experience yet – I think Now is a space that can open us up to eternity.
“Forever is composed of nows.” – Emily Dickenson
“Eternity is not something that begins after you’re dead. It is going on all the time. We are in it now.” Charlotte Perkins Gilman