Thursday, June 14, 2012

June 14: Neglected Grave, Mortal Coil, Last Day

Scrooge crept towards it, trembling as he went; and following the finger, read upon the stone of the neglected grave his own name, EBENEZER SCROOGE.

Most of my disciples can probably guess where this little paragraph occurs in A Christmas Carol.  It is the culmination of the visit of the Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come.  In it, Scrooge is given the unpleasant revelation of his imminent demise.  Judging from all the evidence, Scrooge's death is fast approaching.  Not ten years down the line.  Not five years down the line.  The impression I've always gotten from reading the book is that Scrooge is going to die within a year. 

The main clues for this assumption come from the death of Tiny Tim.  The Ghost of Christmas Present predicts, "If these shadows remain unaltered by the Future, none other of my race...will find him here."  That means that Tiny Tim will be dead within a year.  In the Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come stave, Scrooge sees Bob Cratchit mourning over his son's body.  A few scenes later, the paragraph above appears.  That means that Scrooge is already planted in the ground by the time Tiny Tim shuffles off this mortal coil.  Scrooge has less than a year to live at this point in the narrative.

I've posed this scenario to my Good Books students in the past:  if you suddenly heard God's voice in your ear, and God's voice told you, "You will die next Tuesday at 3:17 p.m. EST," what would you do?  The answer I invariably receive is not sit in a classroom with me, talking about Great Expectations or The Grapes of Wrath.  They would be out with their family or girlfriends or boyfriends.  They would spend their remaining time with their kids.  They wouldn't worry about their finances.  In fact, 100% of my students don't even mention money, unless they intend to purchase gifts for loved ones.  That last mortgage payment for J. P. Morgan Chase doesn't even make a blip on the radar.  It doesn't even make the top 100 list of things to do.

Certainly, when Scrooge is faced with the reality of his untimely end, it changes him.  Actually, it scares the shit out of him.  He can no longer go back to his old life and old habits.  He must embrace a different way of thinking and acting.  I know, if I were in the position of knowing my final dance was approaching, I wouldn't be blogging.  I wouldn't be working.  I wouldn't be doing a lot of the things I normally do every day.

That's what makes the difference for Scrooge.  It should make a difference for everybody.  There's no guarantee, when you eat that bowl of Rice Krispies this morning, that you will be around to finish off the box of Rice Krispies tomorrow.  That should make us hug our daughters a little longer.  Enjoy that Milky Way bar a little more.  Listen to those birds singing for a few extra minutes.  I know it would change my day(s) drastically.

Maybe I should live today like it is my last day.  Make choices that really count, that make me happy.

Saint Marty needs to go.  He has a family-size bag of Cheetos and a pan of brownies to eat.

Judgement Day is here.  Grab a spoon.

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