Being and Nothingness

Monday night, on a whim I decided to make a campfire in the backyard to burn pieces of a broken lawn chair and barbecue chicken and vegetables. We’d picked up our grandson at preschool as usual and kept him till his dad came by to take him home after a long day at work installing fire sprinklers. I invited him to stay for dinner.

We chattered while cooking the meal on hand grills in the warm light of one of the last evenings of daylight-saving time. After hearing about how he almost came to blows with a fellow worker who had punctured his 64 oz bottle of Mountain Dew, Jan asked how his aunt was doing now that she’d moved down south.

“Not too well,” he said. “She’s not getting along with her relatives.”
“She wasn’t happy here either,” said Jan.
“Life’s what you make of it,” replied my ex-son-in law.

Spoken by him, that tired old proverb took on depth. Our fractured and happily reconstituted family was testimony. It struck me that this was a more direct way of saying what seemed terminally hip during my adolescent days in Greenwich Village: “existence precedes essence.”

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