This Mortal Lament

Remember me in a sigh Left behind in shadows And inside closed rooms In these echoing vibrations Native to someone else Vibrant like melodies These shifting frequencies That I cannot escape Even from the grave Honor me in a scream Crashing like waves And slamming into shore Eviscerally gutting Leaving nothing inside In this encompassing … Continue reading This Mortal Lament

A Meaningful Death

“I would rather die a meaningful death than to live a meaningless life.” ~Corazon Aquino

in_memoriam (1)I realized this past week that I can die, and I don’t mean in the sense that anyone who is born will eventually die, but in the sense that a bus can hit me tomorrow and I could be gone. It wouldn’t matter how young I am, or how fit I am, or even how many people love and cherish me. Once my time comes it comes, and while I’d rather it be sixty years from now when I die in my sleep it could honestly be tomorrow, and what do I have to show for my life to this point?

When I got married my wife insisted that we have a lawyer draft our wills. I had never thought about my worldly possessions before. I mean, I owned an old Ford Probe that worked half of the time, a VCR that was completely broken, and a bevy of CDs, books, and video tapes that were probably worth a fourth of what I paid for them when they were new. But my wife explained it well enough for even me to get. It wasn’t about what I owned right now, my physical property. It was about preparing for life after my death, about naming beneficiaries, about life insurance funds, and about making sure my final wishes would be carried out.

In other words, it was really heavy stuff. Concrete even. And as we sat in his office, our lawyer outlined everything for us in black and white, how things would go in the event of my death, untimely or not. When he said the word “untimely” I wondered if a death was ever timely, if it ever really was just someone’s time to go, or if even then it was untimely. I spent the time thinking of those things instead of dwelling on the inevitable, that at some point the only pieces of me left in this world will be memories and experiences, and even those will fade in time.

How do I live a meaningful life where what I do makes a difference in other people’s lives, so that when I die my spirit will live on through positive memories? Continue reading “A Meaningful Death”

Before I Die

before-i-die15_178343183Before I die I want to live. I don’t remember where that quote comes from, but it’s one I’ve lived by since I turned 21. Before then I never even thought about death, even though all around me people were dying every day. None of it really seemed that personal to me until I turned 21 and began having little aches and pains, signs that informed me of my own mortality.

In recent years a lot of focus has been given to the proverbial “bucket list,” a list of things people want to do before they die. It started off with a lot of older folk and their list of regrets. What didn’t they do that they wish they had done in their lifetime? They were regrets, though, because almost everything on their lists were impossibilities for people of advanced age. That’s when people younger and younger began writing out their own bucket lists of things they could conceivably do if they lived a nice long life.

Of course living a nice long life is not a given for anyone who’s young, and we can see more and more the stories of people who’ve died young, before they had a chance to truly live, before the things on their bucket lists could be successfully completed. I recall reading a book once about this woman who was involved in the death of a young girl who had a list of 40 things she wanted to do before 40. I could be massively reinterpreting the plot structure of the book, but it was intriguing, completing someone else’s list out of a sense of guilt or obligation. In a way it was even better because the woman felt compelled to go out of her comfort zone to try and get some closure on what she had done, accidentally or not. The idea intrigues me. Continue reading “Before I Die”

Falling Ash

Searing heat Raining down like fire Burning me clean From the inside out Scalding water Steam rising high Clouding the room Blocking daylight out Like falling ash And the promise of death Buried underground As cold as ice Spirit rising high Stretching thin Snapping mortal constraints Hurtling away at speed Dancing with the wind Never … Continue reading Falling Ash

The Mortality Clause

mortality-rates“Never forget the ones who are left behind; in this way they will never be truly gone.” -Theodicus

Death is such a touchy subject, isn’t it? We are born with such promise, with the entirety of our lives stretching out before us in a line that seems endless. But it’s not. In fact, at the moment of conception, even, we are beginning the ironic journey of living and dying at the same time. I look in the mirror at these gray hairs and realize that I’m 37 years old, that for over 37 years I’ve been slowly dying, and that I’ll be lucky to see 37 more years pass while I’m still on this earth. I also realize how fortunate I am that death is there, at the end of the hopefully long journey.

Don’t get me wrong, I am afraid of death, but not the idea of it. When actual death comes for me I will probably be anxious and afraid. We always fear the unknown, and I have no idea what waits for me on the other side of that abyss. The Bible says that there is nothing after death, that our bodies decay and that our spirits go back to our creator, which sounds peaceful of course. And it’s what is brought up the most by ministers at funeral services to soothe those who remain. He always says that our souls will meet theirs again in the great by and by. But we are more than our souls. We are also these bodies that the souls inhabit. If we believe in this after image, will we even recognize ourselves or others then? Yes, death itself scares the bejeezus out of me. Because of its uncertainty. Continue reading “The Mortality Clause”

Circle of Life

Photo by Susan Burnstine.

“The circle of life is more appropriately an elongated series of curves that meets itself and meanders on into tomorrow.” -Theodicus

Elton John sang a song about the circle of life, which was a big hit in The Lion King, and it focused on how all living things follow this circle of life and death, that it all comes around again and repeats itself. Hence, the circle metaphor. But I believe more in what Theodicus says about this supposed circle. Life is a series of hits and misses of sorts, a collection of choose your own adventure-type experiences, decisions that completely change your course and create or destroy possible scenarios. So, the circle of life might “move us all,” and it might connect us all, but it also is defined by us as a circuitous path that makes everything possible or impossible.

“It’s the circle of life, and it moves us all. Through despair and hope, through faith and love, till we find out place on the path unwinding in the circle of life…” -Tim Rice (music by Elton John)

What I do love about the song, however, is the idea that life is continuous, that even though people die, others are also being born, that this is the great connection that proves our humanity. It’s also probably why most of us are obsessed with our own mortality, counting birthdays like they’re steps along a death march, fascinated by the idea of vampires or zombies who “live” beyond death, even if we know they’re not real. Even if we know we wouldn’t be able to have a real life even if they were. But in the reality that we live through, it is possible to “carry on dancing,” even after death. It is through our progeny that we can keep existing, that the world keeps moving along even after we die. Continue reading “Circle of Life”