life: examined is an invitation to get curious, a compendium of ideas, thoughts, and questions about living a creative, intentional life. Thank you for your support.
Hello, dear reader:
Here we are, at the end of 2021. Can you believe we’ve made it this far?
It was March a minute ago, I’m sure of it—then August. Clearly, I have little understanding of how time progresses; I’m just along for the ride.
As I often do, I’ve been thinking about time and mortality (no, not dwelling on it). I believe this is a healthy practice, an informative one, to meditate on death in general and one’s own death in particular.
I don’t mean to be morbid, and I’m not thinking of all the gruesome things one could imagine in the domain of death, but I do think an open dialogue with and about death helps us live with intention each day.
The American mindset (and I’ll include all Anglophone countries) is uncomfortable with the D-word.
Death is reduced to a meaningless euphemism even though it’s a universal event that all people, whether you’re a Branson, a Bezos, or a Billy Bob, will experience. Your millions, nay billions, will not protect you from this most human occurrence. And, as they say, you can’t take it with you!
Of late, as I contemplate mortality, I’m struck by the banality of euphemisms and how disrespectful and just plain wrong they are in describing someone who’s died.
Passed, passed on, or passed away
In a better place (huh?)
No longer with us
Resting in peace, eternal rest, asleep
Departed, gone, lost, slipped away
Lost her battle, lost her life, succumbed
I must admit that I like shuffled off this mortal coil, but that’s not used in common parlance (nor is the word parlance used commonly).
I want to look at death directly. Not a sideways glance, but straight on. And not adversarially—combative and full of contempt—but more of an I see you, and I know you see me (and I’m not ready yet, okay?) kind of way.
I don’t plan to meet death with glee, but who knows how it will be when the time comes. I’m not glorifying or demonizing it—it’s just a fact of life.
Now that sounds brave, doesn’t it?
Like I’ve got it all figured out—and I sure don’t! But this is the attitude I aim to develop. I don’t want to fear death, but I want it to stay the hell away from me for a good long time.
I don’t want to live each day worried about dying, but knowing that I will die makes each day that much sweeter.
Each day I have on this glorious, fraught, and damaged planet, among glorious, fraught, and damaged humans, is a small gift, even on the bad days.
Don’t Reduce my Life (or Yours) to a Euphemism
When I cease to exist, please say I died.
Please don’t say she’s “finally at peace” or another trite phrase. And don’t say Shanna “slipped away” unless I genuinely slid down a mountainside.
Like everyone, I don’t want physical, emotional, or mental pain in death.
I don’t want to be skewered by a swordfish or dismembered and thrown in the river (okay, that’s dark). I want the same experience for my terminal event that most people want—surrounded by people I love, or at least like a lot, as I close my eyes and fall asleep for the last time. That’s the preferred exit for most of us.
But we don’t get to choose, do we? We don’t choose what our final days, hours, minutes will be like, so I don’t meditate on the minutiae—besides, that is way too much rabbit hole to fall down—imagine what mental machinations I could put myself through!
No, as I contemplate the general idea of death, knowing that time is limited, I remind myself to:
laugh fully, and;
We’re not good at departures of any kind, whether permanent or temporary.
We typically view endings as failures, which is another sentiment I disagree with.
Endings are the natural course of things—nothing goes on forever—but in our desperation to control and influence outcomes, we make ourselves sick with misery.
To accept death as a natural part of the closure of life is to give ourselves space to be curious about it and what our lives or the lives of the people we love are about. We don’t have to embrace death, but acceptance liberates us from fearing it.
The death of a loved one is heart-wrenching, but we don’t need to create additional suffering on top of what’s already there.
A life, the body, transmutes, but love and memories can linger on for the rest of our remaining days. So perhaps we can call a truce with death and at least not greet it with anger, knowing that if not now, then it will be here for us in the future—whether that future is near or far.
I hope this essay didn’t bum you out. I don’t feel sad writing it—I feel better by letting some light and air flow freely around and through the topic of death.
We fear what we don’t understand. And we are afraid of things happening to us that we don’t want to happen. So when we stay in that space, curled inward and afraid to utter the word, we make the topic more frightening than it needs to be.
I find comfort when we can discuss the hard things—how about you?
After it’s over, after the last gaze has shut down,
Will I have become
The landscape I’ve looked at and walked through
Or the road that took me there
or the time it took to arrive?
—Charles Wright, “Sprung Narratives”
Favorite Portuguese to English Auto-Translation of the Week:
This is a description for house slippers, and a review of said slippers.
ESTRO house sneakers for man slippers home man genuine skin devil
I really don't give anything, because I don't want the product, I'm small because I have a lot of an animal. The product in itself, has painted, but I insist on the can give a value. I think it's minimal because I don't want to send me the comment, but I insist on the valuation for you.
I don’t think I’d purchase these slippers, would you? :)
“retro-fabulous bird migration” is right! Check out BIRDS OF A FEATHER DRIVE TOGETHER by Vivienne Strauss for Sketchbook on Zócalo Public Square
I can’t get enough of this weird stuff —> Inside Tokyo's WEIRDEST TINY APARTMENT via Tokyo Lens on YouTube (this guy’s channel is a gem)
This Apartment Building in Vienna Is a Highrise of Huts: Every unit has its own little Schrebergarten, or garden allotment and shed in the sky via Treehugger
Thanks to these generous readers for their support:
Christine, Elaine,Ron, Joe, Sande, and anonymous humans for supporting life: examined through Buy Me a Coffee. It’s not expected, but I sure appreciate it!
Whether it’s a coffee, a comment, a like, or a share—I’m grateful for your support!
Until next time—be well, stay curious, and thanks for reading life: examined