So, where were we? Yes, I had stated my wish for the class of 2020 to stop looking for answers and instead focus on the questions. By questioning everything I mean you should try walking while squinting, the way you do when you’re driving down an open road and can’t quite read the sign coming up. Once the sign is in focus what happens is you relax, the sign comes into focus. You read it and now you have the answer, and that is the secret to life, it is a question, not an answer. What you have been taught in school and in life so far is that there must be an answer, a reason for every thing. But what happens if there isn’t? You mean life isn’t a cup of tea? At the heart of it all is mystery, the unknown. It’s like when you keep peeling an onion until there is no longer an onion, only some compost. What happened to the onion?

Bob Kalish observes life from a placid place on the island of Arrowsic (motto: You’re not in Georgetown yet). You can reach him at [email protected]

That might be what wise men and women have always known since throughout history: Life is just this moment, here and now.

As far as we know we didn’t ask to be born. Just imagine what it would feel like if you were born already grown up. You as an adult thinking person, fully grown with a personality already formed, identity completed. Maybe the birthing process was as simple as sliding down a schoolyard sliding board, land on our feet like the best gymnast and spread our hands to announce our presence. Because, see, there’s another one coming down the chute right behind you.

And there is no one to help you, no god, no messiah, not even a schoolyard monitor. Birth and death are two things we have to do alone.

So that’s life according to those existentialists’ bleak view compared to other life systems, which seem to hold out the promise of a better life and interesting people, all hanging out in the schoolyard. That’s my view of the afterlife (what some would call heaven): a summer camp spent making stuff you can bring home to mother, the bread board, the beaded necklaces, the braided bracelets, all of which will spend eternity on some dust-covered mantlepiece.

These are things you learn if you pay attention. We’re all hanging out in the schoolyard, awaiting our turn, and no one seems to be in charge. Tibetan Buddhists call that place the bardo and it’s a place (not really) where you can accumulate good karma for your next life. A wise man named J. Krishnamurti, whose followers claimed he was an “enlightened being,” refused the title. During an event in which he was to be named the “real Messiah” he refused the honor, saying “It is the truth that liberates, not our efforts to be free.”

So, have another cup of tea.

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