Connecting the Dots: In what world do you want to live?

John Bos

John Bos


Published: 04-19-2024 4:31 PM

I find myself acutely aware of living in three worlds right now. The biggest one is the Universe that is large beyond my comprehension. My awareness was sharpened by watching the eclipse with my sister from two camp chairs in my driveway. Watching the eclipse made me feel “right sized” … one of trillions of infinitesimal organisms in the Universe in which I reside temporarily.

My second world is, for the moment, centered in the condominium community where I have been confined by the experience of requiring 24/7 home care in response to metastatic prostate cancer. The help and love from my neighbors, from the men’s group which gathers in my living room every other week, and family and friends from near and far who have come to be with me, have shown that love is action. Last, but light years from least, my sister and brother who have traveled to Greenfield from Iowa and Florida without whom I don’t think I would have survived emotionally.

Now, I’m slowly coming out of that nosedive thanks to the last chance medical option of six infusions of radioactive isotopes designed to directly attack the uninvited cancer cells on my spinal column. The infusions are six weeks apart which will take me into early autumn this year. Each day is delivering itsybitsy improvements. I have parked my walker in my bedroom and carry a cane for stability/balance support if needed. I can now drive to Foster’s which opens the prison door in my condo. I took my sister out to Denny’s for a farewell breakfast this past Sunday. Even though I have no taste right now — a side effect of my infusions — I hope I’ll be able to taste pumpkin pie again come Thanksgiving. It will be a very special Thanksgiving if I can savor the squash, homemade cranberry sauce, turkey stuffing and all the other gifts that grace my Thanksgiving table.

My slow but steady return to what is referred to as our everyday world is bringing me renewed insight into what it is to live in this world. One strong belief I have is that to be joyful in today’s universe is a brave and reckless act. The courage for joy springs not from the certainty of my experience, but from my surprise. My astonishment at being loved, and my newly revived ease to love in return. This, in a time of anger, hate and political ugliness. This in a time of human actions, and inaction, that have put our planet on a collision course with disaster.

Thom Hartmann, in his terrific Substack column, wrote that “We long ago passed a human population number that could be sustained without intensive use of gasoline and oil, so we’re burning up a 300-million-year-old fossilized-plant resource in order to feed the eight billion humans currently riding spaceship Earth. Many more may starve, even more than are starving today. And almost nothing is being done by governments to offset this very real possibility.”

“But what can we do?” Hartmann continues. “We recycle, eat vegetarian foods, drive gas-efficient cars, and feel as though we’re doing something useful, but it remains a fact that a panhandling Bowery wino in New York City has access to greater wealth in a month than most citizens of the world’s population will ever see in a year. And even that ‘poverty-level’ rate of resource consumption is something the planet cannot sustain without our burning up carbon fuel sources that will be exhausted within a generation or two.”

While the exact number is unclear, search results provide examples of civilizations like the Maya, Khmer, Indus, Mississippian, Easter Island, Çatalhöyük, and many others that rose to prominence and then collapsed over the millennia. These great civilizations have come and gone throughout history, with their declines often linked to factors like climate change, overconsumption of resources, warfare, and environmental degradation.

Anyone reading this column today most likely has nothing to fear about the demise of western civilization. Unless the reader has a broader awareness and compassion for future generations and the well-being of the world.

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John Bos created his “Connecting the Dots” column in 2013 to share on a regular basis the confusion and conundrums that were blurring his comprehension of our world and how it “works.” His efforts continue every other Saturday in the Recorder. Comments, insights and questions are invited at