Wednesday, April 17, 2019

Love Letters to my life #10: Talking with Warren Buffet

Warren Buffet
by Joyce Wycoff

(We know the day we were born, but most of us do not know the day we will die. This love letter to my life is written on the day I've designated as my death day, the 17th of every month, and reminds me to be grateful for my incredible life.)

Of course, I wasn’t actually talking with Warren Buffet, however, in one of our weekly conversations, my wise friend Pat told me something that she heard him say on PBS.  

Anyway, Warren was saying … imagine that as a young person you’re given a car and told that it is the only car you will ever own. There is no such thing as buying a new one or trading yours in for a different one. This is it. Your one and only car. Knowing that, how would you treat it? Perhaps you would take care of it, keep it clean, avoid accidents and change the oil regularly? Probably.

Of course, Warren (since we’re in conversation, I think it’s okay to use first names) was talking in metaphors, using a car to represent our bodies. I don’t know how far he took the metaphor, but I’ve been thinking about it since Pat mentioned it.
Pat and I talk often about our health and physical conditions. We’re both health-oriented and Fitbit buddies with a gentle competition going on with our daily steps. (Actually, I’m gentle; Pat’s a bit more fierce and is known to walk around her property until her numbers are ahead of mine.) We average about 70,000 steps a week which isn’t bad for two 70-ish women. 

However, going back to Warren, we only get one car, but we don’t get to choose the one we want. It’s the luck of the draw. Some get Lamborghinis; some get Corvairs. This month, two men in our small village died suddenly, leaving gaping holes where they once walked. It left me wondering if they were “ready,” and what that might mean. 

I know “being ready” is more than having wills written, arrangements made, and clutter distributed. As I pondered this question, I brought my friend Google into the conversation and he failed me utterly, offering only thoughts on suicide, signs of impending death, and some religious sites with their “make your peace now” messages.
Are these voladores "ready"?

The closest I came to decent advice was the statement attributed to Crazy Horse, “Today is a good day to die.” While that comment is probably apocryphal, it generally means, “I am ready for whatever comes.” Taking that to Google yielded mountains of face-your-fears-and-do-it-anyway advice, and more make-your-peace-now platitudes, leaving me still groping around in the dark.

I like the grand mysteries of life: What was there before the Big Bang banged? Does everyone have a soul mate? Why do some people like creamy peanut butter more than crunchy? I can argue most sides of an argument, but there is one thing I am certain of … one morning my car is not going to start.

Knowing that, what should I do? I could park my reliable, high-mileage Toyota and only use it for emergencies, but what fun would that be? I think it would be better to keep having adventures, exploring the world, changing the oil regularly, checking the brakes, and washing the bugs off the windshield. 

The only answer I have to this particular question of how to be “ready” for what comes next is to keep doing what makes me feel alive and accept that “this, too, shall pass." Maybe it's only by living fully each moment that we are ready for that day when our particular car follows the pattern of Oliver Wendell Holmes' poem ...
Have you heard of the wonderful one-hoss shay,
That was built in such a logical way
It ran a hundred years to a day,
And then, of a sudden, it --

However, as for Warren, he’s now 88 and, as far as I know, his car is purring strongly.

(Dontcha hate metaphors that have gone on too long?) 
"Love" labyrinth in Ajijic.


  1. I'm always "ready" because I believe I'm going to the heaven where all my pets abide, and when they see me they knock me down and lick my face and I get to hug them all again.

  2. "It's a good day, a blessing day, a good day to die." A prayer I say in the morning to practice being ready. thanks Joyce for your ongoing sharing of questions

  3. Thanks, Susa! Great morning practice. Looking forward to hearing about your trip!

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