We cycled to warm up at the crack of dawn and greeted the sunrise
together for the first time on our journey. The brilliance an electrifying
orange, sudden and assertive in the cold morning air. We came to a gray sign
Manmade inlets were carved into the shoreline every couple of hundred
metres, houses built in clusters, remnants of the infrastructure from the
Habitant days attracting pioneers with arable land backing out from the river.
We passed old and new locks, some decrepit and some in use, the road barren,
chipped and bumpy and hard to ride. We crossed the elongated bridge to the
island of Montreal, past Beaconsfield and then Point Claire and Dorval. The
homes beautiful beside the white-capped river flowing towards the Atlantic.
There were only a few cyclists and a few walkers along the path where we
stopped. It was there that Doppel saw the full extent of my pain. I hobbled to
a bench where he sat, choosing not to hide anything anymore from him. I had
become an old man.
"We're almost there. There's the Champlain Bridge," he said, pointing.
Brave not to infringe or inquire. My ailments, my business.
afraid I have some bad news for you Edward. I'm ill. I have something similar
to your Reiter's Syndrome but it's a little heavier I think." Doppel's
empathetic, expected something. "It is a fatal disease that affects the limbs.
My cells are dying and my limbs and then organs will hardened with scar tissue
until my death within two years. There's no treatment and they don't know what
causes it. I'm sorry I didn't tell you earlier but I couldn't find the right
time. I actually flew to Taiwan to tell you but our time there was so wicked I
didn't want to wreck it.
I said to you my biggest regret is that we didn't spend more time together as
adults. Always thought we'd have the time. I suppose that's why I asked you to
take this final road trip with me. It really meant a lot to me."
accepted it. I mean, I wrestled with the ‘why' but I'm past that now. I just
don't want you to have a bird or anything. But I must say, your ideas on time
were right on. I've changed a heck of a lot in my life since my diagnosis a
year ago. Time, or the awareness of its limited amount, totally changed the way
I see the world, make decisions and engineer my day. It really has been amazing
hearing your ideas and seeing the passion you have. I mean you've taken it
farther than I ever did by far. And I'm proud of you man. Really, a dying man
doesn't lie!" No smile. "And I wanted to say I'm sorry about a few things." He
addressed past fights and misunderstandings that had been left untouched,
timelines he wanted to fix before he left for good.
there's anything I didn't address it means that whatever it is was not
important to me or that I've forgotten - because it didn't bother me. I don't
want you to be devastated by this because I know I would react if you told me
these words. So be comforted that I'm at peace with you and the world. I wish
we had had this handbook discussion twenty years ago because I certainly
would've chosen different paths and done different things. I hope you write it
all down for others to learn and be inspired by your work, your diligence and
sacrifice. Expand the handbook to a book for humanity." I looked at him but his
eyes were dark and stormy. "'Cause if you don't, I will. If I had known what
you've told me these last two road trips I would have become a different
person, done the things that needed to be before I met my end. I didn't respect
time. That's the bottom line.
Mom knows about my illness. It's called Lupus. It's been around for thousands
of years and no one has ever found a cure. So I mean, it's one of those thins
you don't have any control over. It's just happened. I will have half the years
I thought I'd have. I thought you would be the first to leave. Your
recklessness and your natural inclination to open the door and find out for
yourself rather than trust others who have told you. I mean you've traveled and
seen the world while I was sitting in Toronto going out with the same guys and
watching the same hockey team that never won. You went out there and became a
man. I stayed and remained a boy. I read what you read twenty-five years ago
and it's been lost. Apathy. Ignored initiative. The works.
it's almost serendipitous that I had the experience to be taught and be
enlightened by someone who has done those things that needed to be done and
verified the ideas you had read about to see if they worked. When I asked you
what you would change in your life if you found out you were going die within a
year, and you said nothing, that was the thing I couldn't say. I'm living the
life I should have lived before the news. Your half-life could be equal to my
ninety years of living. You've probably lived an entire lifetime to the average
man reaching old age but I would be half and only getting half the time. Think
of the tragedy of that. Think of all those fields I'll never get to go.
Sensations I never explored. A certain level of qualia never reached. I've been
up at bat but looking down to first base missing the pitches. My one at bat and
I daydream. That's loss. That's unforgivable. It's embarrassing. Never left the
nest. Never tree-planted. I never rode motorcycles in countries like Vietnam
and India but somehow you found the time. I always wanted to go to St.
Petersburg. And Ireland. You've probably been there too.
wonder too if knowing I'm going to die within twelve months has given me some
perspective that I otherwise wouldn't have had if I was killed for example in a
bus accident, not knowing until the final moment. Things left unsaid and beefs
never addressed. Papers not in order. Time for harvest from reflection, time
earned from labors put in. The playing filed has been halved. There's only four
minutes left in the first half, which is all the time I'm going to have. Been
pulled for the second half. Shame too ‘cause I was just getting into my
and maybe that's a good thing before I go in case there's an afterlife."
there is an afterlife Schöngait. I've said that before but you still don't
will be seeing soon. But let me put it this way, the door's still open on that
one. I'm open-minded on that question. It's a wait-and-see number. I'm hoping
you're right. Wouldn't be the first time."
there anything I can do, or anything you'd like me to do for you? Just ask if
stoked my beard and there was only one thing that popped in.
would like for you to make me a promise. That's what I'd like."
you write down all that stuff you were talking about, your extended philosophy
studies. Autodidact gone mad. In a book form. Your Viking-Poet ethics and your
Kantian epistemology. Can you promise me that?" Doppel scratched his beard and
I can't. I know why. ‘cause I just cracked it. Put into words a comprehensive
life view, a momentary breakthrough which, now learned, would not motivate me
to write it all down organized and crisp. I know myself too well. It's been
conquered so it's time to move on. So I'm sorry Stüffle but I honestly cannot
make that promise."
to hear the blunt honesty. "Okay but what about if, in my last days, I find the
time to write it down from memory, our two trips and the ideas we discussed,
into a completed book, would you promise to publish it?"
I promise to do that. If you have a completed manuscript then I'll have it
"And do you promise not to touch a word in the manuscript?"
"No problem bro."
"You know that's your expertise. That's what God gave you to take with
and run. And you did! It behooves you to hand off your digested knowledge and
to share your wisdom just as you did with me. In Taiwan riding during all those
aftershocks was my classroom for my philosophy tutorial. Learned more during
that week riding to Puli than I did in all my classes at university. It's like
you crystallized it all into one comprehensive edifice based on and footnoted
to the Biggies who came before you. All the more reason to write it up. Or is
it just for me? The point is that I'm going to use zeitqualia everyday
and try to maximize my qualia and utilize my time in a respectful flow, not
because it came from you, but because it's the wisest thing to do. Too many
people sitting around just waiting to die. Not I. One never knows, there
could be a few more exploits rustled up from the basement. And I'm always in
for a wingman."