“I was terrified that my outcome would be written in stone if I acknowledged the fact that I came from people that couldn’t manage to stay on the planet. That’s what my lineage was.” – Polly Parsons daughter of the late singer, songwriter Gram Parsons
Staying alive really doesn’t seem that burdensome to me. I struggle with my weight, maybe I have a few to many glasses of Merlot from time to time. I am not nearly as social as I once was ten years ago, but wanting to live, wanting to breathe, wanting to see another sunset or sunrise isn’t an issue. At least right now it isn’t.
I think about dying all the time. Now let me qualify that, I don’t think about wanting to die, or how it might happen, just that I am going to die. Every life has an end date or as R. D. Laing so eloquently put it “Life is a sexually transmitted disease and the mortality rate is one hundred percent.”
Now death isn’t a topic of conversation that many people are comfortable discussing. I have friends in the funeral business and I am amazed out how they can keep it together talking with families. I couldn’t. Death is the subject, and death is their business and they are very good at their business and have made a lot of money. Sure, making arrangements for your 87-year-old Dad is certainly very sad but compare that to planning the funeral for your sixteen year old daughter. That, my friends, would be a very different kind of grief. If you have lived through that please know that I am very, very sorry.
I am still haunted by the suicide of a friend mine four years ago, a man who seemingly held the world in the palm of his hands. But he had a severe illness, depression, and sadly he decided to make it a terminal condition when it didn’t need to be. I wish I could ask him just one question, what in his mind made death so much more attractive than life? Why would he leave the perfect family, a dream job, at the top of his field, a community that not only respected him but revered him. Why?
Yes, I think about death but I spend much more of my day thinking about living, staying on this planet. I love hugging my wife and kids and hearing them laugh. I love seeing baby goats play in the fields and watching my dogs fight over milk bones. I love hearing my mother’s voice and eating her dressing on Thanksgiving. I don’t know what’s on the other side. I am sure some of you think you know but honestly you don’t really. I like it here, I wish my friend could have found a way to have liked it too.
So live, breathe deeply. Smell the logs burning on a crisp Fall day, listen to Etta James sing “At Last”, watch the moon rise over the clouds, taste a warm butter biscuit with blackberry preserves, hold the hand of someone you love, and help a friend find the joy in living. Life is a terminal condition. It doesn’t need our help to advance its completion.
“Life is a journey that must be traveled no matter how bad the roads and accommodations.” – Oliver Goldsmith