Temporarily Out of Service

By Don Doman

Recently I looked at a pictorial in one of the supermarket tabloids. The photographs offered views of celebrities as they were years ago and how they look now. Beautiful faces that once could have launched a thousand ships, now couldn't float a dingy. Hard bodies have become sagging soft bodies. Hunks have become chunks.

I stared as if in a trance. Hidden behind the glare of sensationalism the tabloid was illustrating a philosophical point, not something to be taken lightly. Everything in life is temporary. I know it, but I have to be hit across the forehead with the information every now and then.

We lead a temporary existence. Beauty is temporary. Fame is temporary. Success is temporary. Actually the better the attribute, the more temporary it is. Failure and poverty are only temporary, also. They just seem to go on forever. The only three things that aren't temporary are freeway road construction, ugly shag carpet and business downsizing.

Company loyalty is temporary. Jobs are temporary. Careers are temporary. Business is using more and more temporary workers. In the good old days if a person had a good job with a good company they were set for life. Life time guarantees are as temporary as those good old days.

Everything we see is temporary. Telephone poles will be replaced. Our new car will rust and break down. If we build a deck, it will last for only a few years. Mount Rainier will one day be gone, like other mountains before it. The Puget Sound basin may one day be higher than the Cascade mountain range. Even the continents are shifting and changing, just like our bodies.

Several months ago, I heard a speech about human services. The speaker told the audience we were T.A.B.s - Temporarily Abled Bodied. He said, "Even though almost everyone in this room is in good health and mobile, sooner or later, you'll be disabled. Your health will fail or you'll have an accident." Our days are numbered. We are temporary.

The young don't see the temporariness of existence. Life seems to stretch out forever. That's too bad, they need to see life as it is and gain pleasure from it. There is pleasure in the temporary. It lets us wear Nehru jackets, leisure suits and weird hairdos. By taking temporary pleasure we can do other stupid things without being embarrassed. We can listen to The Dave Clark Five, Toto, or Bush and not worry that the experience will harm us unduly.

We're told that time heals all wounds. That's true. Wounds are temporary. The time of the present is very temporary. It's like life. It's here, and then it's gone.

We have organs replaced in our bodies and we're told we're as good as new, temporarily. A knee is replaced to let us run and walk temporarily, so we can do household chores in a home where the lawn will probably outlast us and the home. And, yet, even that lawn is temporary.

We fertilize our lawns so they look luxurious and green. We have to keep fertilizing. The effect of the fertilizer is only temporary. It's like politics. We hear politicians stating they want to help us. That too, like the fertilizer, is only temporary or at least until the votes are counted.

Realizing the temporariness of life gives us solace. If we're in pain, we know that it'll someday go away, or we will. If we're struggling, one day our efforts will be no longer needed. The struggle will be over.

Envy is wasted in a temporary world. Even Olympic athletes are only temporarily able bodied. The high school football star will move on to selling real estate. Thin people become fat people. The famous become obscure (except for Elvis). The super rich become merely rich and the rich become poor. We don't need to waste our time being jealous of other people.

Knowledge of the temporary philosophy makes us strong. It lets us endure the success of our neighbors. It's only temporary. It lets us endure the popularity of Bob Saget. It's only temporary. It lets us endure one more sports stadium construction. It's only temporary. It lets us read one more supermarket tabloid.

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