DEATH. Now that’s an attention grabbing word (especially in all caps). My editors want me to write about things that are of local interest, and since the obituaries are popular reading by many people, I thought death could work. Although I suspect they are generally thinking more along the lines of local land-use issues, but a blog can allow almost infinite freedom in the subjects I choose.
The first thing I want to say is, “I object”. Now I have no idea whether or not anyone or anything actually created or built or materialized the universe or our little corner of it. But if I were to have an opportunity to express my views, I would saunter up to the creator and say, “I am firmly opposed to death."
My reason for displeasure at this construction of my world is that I really like my world – it is interesting, full of excitement and mystery. Probably the biggest reason is that I want to see how it all turns out. According to how I view existence, for the most part, I will not have an opportunity to observe anything past the next 25 or so years. That is simply not enough time for me (unless of course we manage to wreck nuclear mayhem on ourselves, in which case, the next ten thousand years might not be all that interesting). I am not certain just how much time I would like, but I am sure it is more than a couple decades.
My relationship with death has always been a bit of a challenge. Namely, for most of my life it has scared me fecalless –hey, everyone should have a chance to create new words! When I was in my teens and early twenties, I had already lost quite an assortment of relatives to the reaper (growing up on a farm causes certain tendencies of speech). In my thirties and forties I had already experienced the death of over forty friends and relatives and been to more funerals than most people I knew. So death was no stranger, but I found nothing to my liking in his/her/its presence. Death made me anxious—almost all of the time.
Some deaths were harder than others. When I was sixteen, my sixteen-year-old cousin was killed in a drunk driving accident in Jackson; I went into a state of disbelieving shock for quite a few years. That death, some forty plus years later is still a vivid reminder of how astonishing the whole event can be.
The death of my father, on the other hand, though somewhat surprising was not particularly upsetting, except that I worried about how my mother would handle it. She actually took it rather well--she stopped drinking herself into a stupor every night, a pastime she and my father shared. So, it ultimately was helpful in allowing her to live a more stable life until her death in 1991.
I know some of the arguments in favor of death. For example, death is helpful for making sure things don’t get too crowded—but then the entire world’s population could fit in the state of Texas with a fair amount of space for each person. We would probably have to throw in Arizona to fit in all those folks from the past who have died, so maybe excess numbers isn’t such a big problem. In any case, there is plenty of space for us all. So overcrowding doesn’t seem like a good enough reason to favor deadness.
Along the lines of overcrowding, and here is a point where death is good, our cells are constantly dying and regenerating. Much of the dust in our lives is composed of dead skin cells, and I suppose it would be quite messy if the cells didn’t pass on. So I will grant this small concession to death’s necessity.
Another argument in favor of death is that it is “the natural course of things.” So? Your point is? I am in favor of bugs, bushes, and beasts dying (with apologies to the beasts at least) because things could get a bit crowded if nothing ever died. It is just that my ego and I are not in favor of my dying or actually anyone else that I know or even don’t know.