Saturday, December 5, 2009

The Finish Line

On December 5, 2009 Joseph L. Taylor made his transition from this life. He will be missed by all who knew and loved him as well as those who never met him because Joe brought something powerful and amazing to every life he touched; a strength of character and conviction that was compelling and contagious.

The following excerpts are taken from the chapter entitled The Finish Line in his memoir My Five Careers:

This memoir is almost finished, and before long, so the life. In one way, the end to living will be a relief. Philip Roth said, “Old age is not a battle. It’s a massacre.” I want to go before the carnage begins. Should an account of one’s life end with a rhetorical flourish, a counterpart to the long, lingering, soaring thunder and defiance in the ending to the last movement of Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony, or should it end with a wail of sadness that one’s life is coming to a close? (The Beethoven analogy is fitting, because the music also does not want to end). What if one feels defiance in the morning and sadness at night? Or feels both ways at the same time? It doesn’t matter. All of the endings are valid but futile attempts to thumb a nose at personal fate….

….My story is both gratifying and scary in terms of the random. We come to life through the most fortuitous of events. If I had been conceived a day sooner or a day later - or even in a different minute or hour of the day of my conception - I, the person I am, would not be on this earth, for there is no chance that the same sperm and egg would meet again. That observation is humbling. I am an accident. I began this memoir by saying that I have a story to tell. It is utterly beyond comprehension to think of the billions of men and women on this earth who also have stories to tell. It takes effort to live a life. If harnessed, the energy of spirit alone, from despair to jubilation, spent every moment of time on the tawdry and the sublime, the evil and the noble, the ordinary and the singular, could power the planet…

….If this memoir has struck a blow for Everyman, I have accomplished my secondary mission. As the grave of the Unknown Soldier is a symbol for the many millions who have died in wars fighting for this country, so a Statue of Everyman should become a symbol for the many millions who unassumingly make our society worthwhile. We are the renewable energy of the earth.

Two final observations: I am prepared for death. Everyone who has ever lived has also died. That’s the deal. Death is personal, but it is not personal.

When it comes to Joe's appreciation of random events in shaping our lives, it doesn't seem too ironic that his passing coincides with the long awaited release of his memoir, My Five Careers, which includes Out of My Mind, his previously released collection of essays, short stories and verse.

If you would like to get "more later" as Joe always signed his blog posts, you can get a copy of his book by clicking here.

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  1. Thanks for everything Joe. Though you lived long, your time was too short. May your presence be ever apparent through the lives and smiles you have inspired.

  2. What an amazing guy! His wisdom and kindness, humor and smarts will endure and always color my world.

  3. Just an amazing man and writer and musician.I am so grateful to have met Joe and Gerry. To his family remaining,peace in the valley.