"You can't stop what's coming...and it ain't waiting for you. To think so is vanity."
That's what Tommy Lee Jone's character says at the end of the movie "No Country For Old Men," as he is recounting a dream he had about his father.
Of course, he's talking about death, or at least the inevitability of age. In the dream, he sees his father, riding a horse in the night, holding fire inside a hollowed out steer horn. He knows his father is going on ahead of him, that he's going to build a fire in the night, and that he will be waiting for him.
You can't stop what's coming. Regardless of what we may do between now and then, we will not stop the day of the inevitable. There will not be a Rapture - no one is going to be turned into spirits in the twinkling of an eye and taken up in the air to be with Jesus forever. We will all die. Every last one of us.
And it's not going to wait for us to be ready. It's not going to ask our persmission. We won't be able to schedule it, like we do our doctor's appointment. It will not come in any way that we can foresee or guess. To think otherwise is truly vanity, foolish beyond measure.
In many ways, this really is no country for old men. It is a hard place, and old men tend to be feeble. It is a place where memory can be a weapon, and old men have lots of memories. It is a place where the young are rewarded, and old men are...well, old.
So what do we do once we see - really SEE - that our fathers have gone ahead of us to prepare a place for us? What do we do when it finally dawns on us that we can't stop what's coming?
Well, we certainly can't stop everything, but we can do some things. We can determine how we will live before we die. And how we will love. And we can take control of the little things that we can control...not what happens, but what our responses are. We can choose to explore, or question, or trust, or doubt, or forgive.
I can't stop what's coming and I am in control of very little. But I can do some little things, right now, in little steps. Little goals, little accomplishments.
It doesn't stop anything...except me obsessing about the fact that I can't stop what's coming. I can distract myself from the inevitable. I guess it is a denial, in a sense. But it is also choosing to rage against the dying of the light. I will not go gentle into that dark night, and I will not yield to the inevitable until the inevitable murders me.
How about you?