The Uncertainty of Setting Forth

Jean-Paul Sartre

Allow me to wax metaphysical for a moment.  Life doesn’t begin at conception (the sperm and ova are alive after all) but began 3.5 billion years ago.  Life is a continuum through which beings may or may not replicate their DNA.  Randomness, not God, is the determinate in the clusterfucked process known as evolution – mutative, extinction-plagued, indifferent.

My grand transition from the birth-cave to the here-and-[not now]-now[1] occurred on a rare snowy day in Dorchester County, SC, on 14 December 1952, a leap year, an election year.  Thanks to my paternal grandmother’s terminal cancer, Clemson class-cutter meets student nurse, they elope, eschew contraception, and B-I-N-G-O!

In other words, I owe my existence to a 40-year-old woman’s terminal cancer.  If she had lived to a ripe old age, my father wouldn’t have met my mother.  He would have mated with someone else and produced a different Wesley Lee-Edward Moore III, and my mother, no doubt, would have produced other children with different surnames.  Rather than sitting here flailing away at the keyboard, the matter that constitutes me would be distributed elsewhere, and the not-I-and-I would be as oblivious to the Orwellian chicanery of Trumpworld as it was to Oliver Cromwell’s right-wing Interregnum, as oblivious to tonight’s World Series Game 5 as it was to Shoeless Joe Jackson’s stellar .375 batting average in the 1919 Black Sox series.

My not being would merely be a matter of indifference.   

What youthful mother, a shape upon her lap
Honey of generation had betrayed,
And that must sleep, shriek, struggle to escape
As recollection or the drug decide,
Would think her Son, did she but see that shape
With sixty or more winters on its head,
A compensation for the pang of his birth,
Or the uncertainty of his setting forth?

                    WB Yeats “Among School Children”

the author with 68 winters on its head

[1] That phrase, by the way, should be sung aloud to the tune of “Papa Oom Mow Mow.”

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