Demics – En, Epi, and Pan
(Originally published by Nevada Humanities, www.nevadahumanities.org, on July 12, 2021.)
Each evening as I sit at the kitchen table my view is of the Virginia Range. For 26 years I have watched the light and shadows on the ridges and gullies of the Virginias sharpen, soften, then fade into darkness and change with the seasons.
The scene has always been pleasing to me and a soothing way to mark the end of a day. I know the sun will arise behind these mountains each morning, putting them in silhouette. Then full light, and clouds willing, to the play of light and shadow I enjoy each evening.
I practiced medicine for 50+ years. I was a hospice medical director for 15 of those years. I attended many people as they approached the end of their lives. Many people noted how much sharper their appreciation of the small scenes of life had become. I read in stories—short and long—of a similar sense among other people. I thought I appreciated these scenes—the daffodils blooming, the greening of the grass, the smell of the hyacinths and the changes that each season brings to us.
My 89th year is flowing along with a twitch here, a twinge there, a bump in the chest again and again, and my sense of my own mortality grows stronger. My appreciation of these mundane scenes has gone from an intellectual aesthetic appreciation to one of deep feeling in my own essence.
Perhaps this is because of the heightened sense of mortality brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic with the daily headlines of death; perhaps it is the conversation with a dear friend whose health is rapidly deteriorating, and she sees the end of life racing toward her. Whatever the reason it is pleasing to embrace this heightened awareness into my life.
My wish is that everyone can have the opportunity to reach a similar state for themselves. An evening view of the Virginias in Reno, or the Red Rocks in Las Vegas, are a great aide to achieving that feeling.