“On a long enough timeline, the survival rate for everyone drops to zero.”
– Fight Club
Death is an unpleasant subject. No one likes to talk about it, to think about it. It’s fun to joke about (at the very least, in the if-I-laugh-’tis-that-I-may-not-weep sorta way), maybe — at least, until you realize that last joke was really ill-timed for a member or two of your crowd.
And yet, here’s the rub: it’s one of the very few things that unites us humans. No matter what beliefs or mutations or circumstances separate us, we all evolved somewhere way far back from a singular common ancestor, not a single one of us has actually read Joyce’s Ulysses, and we are all going to one day die. It’s a chronic condition, a birth defect we all share.
I’ve found that it works best for me to avoid as best I can dread and worry, especially against the unavoidable. Gotta get a root canal on Wednesday? I’ll worry about it enough to make sure I get there in time for my appointment. Between now and then, nothing I think — no amount of mental energy, no matter in what form — changes the event itself, nor the outcome, so why not spend that time in a more pleasant headspace?
“I’m not afraid of death, but I’m in no hurry to die. I have so much I want to do first.”
– Stephen Hawking
A friend of mine, Blake, died earlier this week. The word I’ve heard is that it was a heart attack, but I suppose the cause is really a secondary concern, well behind the fact that he was younger than me (and at 46, I don’t even qualify for AARP membership). I have at least four friends in my age group that are being treated for cancer, with variously hopeful outcomes. I’ve lost countless friends to car accidents, suicides, homicides, drug overdoses, and illness over the years.
Read it in your best horror movie narrator voice: “Death is coming for us all…”
Which leaves us at the end of the day with a limited (and in an unknown quantity, to boot) number of days to live. We can choose to spend that time anxious and worrying about the inevitable, we can choose to simply pass the time in a state of bland existence… or we can choose to enjoy it to the fullest possible extent, whatever that means to you.
Things to ponder heading into the spring weekend…
Sitting down on the steps at the old post office
The flag was flying at half-mast
And I was thinkin’ ’bout how everyone is dying
And maybe it’s time to live
– eels, “P.S. You Rock My World”