The emergence of new human or animal life, when considered scientifically, and empirically, is the natural and eternal, continuance of the relevant planetary species, at the very start of its own individual life cycle. However, to the emotional perception of humankind, it appears to be a singular, miraculous event; despite the existence of identical past experience, and a relevant educational background. The reaction of enhanced astonishment, we would maintain, is an emotion having its etiology in the sudden realization, that life has irreversibly changed, in the context of the new addition to the previously familiar, family structure. A newborn child, even the introduction of a new pet cat or dog, portends changes, not only in the household dramatis personae, but also to its routine and undertaken responsibilities.

It usually takes but a short time, before the addition is incorporated into the recognized family household. The new responsibilities are willingly undertaken, in exchange for the invaluable pleasure of love for the new baby or family pet. One becomes grateful to incorporate this new recipient of the rare and most precious gift of the planet, the invaluable franchise of life, to the family unit.

We are struggling for a useful metaphor for the grant, or franchise of life, but can find no closer reference than the poet, Gertrude Stein’s expressed reverence, for the incomparable beauty of the rose. Her poetic statement was, “A rose is a rose, is a rose,” poetically editorializing her aesthetic opinion, that there is no other flower or suitable object, worthy of comparison to the inimitable rose.

There would appear to us, nothing on the planet, comparable in value or worth, to the gift (franchise) of life.  Just as the revered rose has thorns, life too has its own natural potential for pain and suffering. As may be known, by now, we have an obvious and irresistible penchant for words. Our least favorite vocabulary word in the American-English lexicon, is the word, “finite”, a word denoting absolute limitation. Bound up with being a fortunate recipient of life, is the unfortunate understanding, that life sadly, is finite in length.

However, man lives, and thrives, with the knowledge of the ultimate foreclosure on his franchise of life. Most of us are concerned with health, but are creative, in comfortably repressing thoughts of our ultimate demise. We attend funerals for other people, but could not be happy and productive, ruminating about the end of our own lives. We leave it all, to the Actuarial profession among whose express professional responsibilities, is the determination of the estimated span of life of individuals (for the insurance industry and other uses) by the use of several techniques, including probability mathematics.

We have eternally recommended the advancement and improvement of the quality of life, by the curating of an interest, or, reading good literature, continuing one’s studies, or participation in the arts and sciences, thereby increasing wisdom and perspective, and, for as long as it lasts, getting the maximum value and enjoyment possible, from the precious gift to us of life.

It can be uncomfortable, to candidly conclude, that since all life is finite, the practice of loving other people, unfailingly, exposes one to the vulnerability of the eventual loss of that love object.  This is the cost, or invoice, (like the thorns on Gertrude Stein’s rose) for loving someone or something.  The alternative is far worse; to avoid that vulnerability, by never loving, is to waste the essential value of life’s costly franchise.

After the enjoyment of a truly fine dinner at a good restaurant, with family or close friends, we are presented with the bill, which we happily pay, provided the dining experience was positive.


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Retired from the practice of law'; former Editor in Chief of Law Review; Phi Beta Kappa; Poet. Essayist Literature Student and enthusiast.

One thought on “Post # 404  THE PLANETARY FRANCHISE”

  1. Thank you, Lenny, this is such a beautiful piece. I think of the inimitable rose which has thorns, and whose blossom is short lived. But can one imagine to never have seen or smelled a rose? What a beautiful site, what a fragrant smell! Is it better to have loved and lost than never to have loved, you ask?

    I agree, finite of the physical dimension is a reality and complicates life. However, can the energy imbued in loving and how it effects the world be somehow infinite? Does time and space truly define all aspects of reality? I do not think so. The physical world is impermanent however is there not a dimension that is constant, one, universal, omnipresent, shared, and impermanent? Some do believe so, at least per my discussion with nuclear physicists as well as readings of spiritual masters. And do we not contain the entire substance of the universe within us? At least Rumi would believe so.


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