Log in

entries friends calendar profile
I'm in a mood, so bear with me here. I'm just going to write this from the hip and click on the publish button. I was once misquoted as saying that if you don't want to die, you never really live. It bothered me at the time, largely because the point I was trying to make was lost in the shuffle. A small part of me was furious at the needlessly melodramatic phrasing as well. It sounds trite. It's the variety of fortune cookie wisdom that allows people to feel as though they are living lives of constant revelation. As if the sensation of profundity is all that we require. This quiet surrender to the notion that half measures and knockoffs achieve the same effect as the genuine article has caught my attention before. The implication that we have no need for the deeper meaning when it is difficult to grapple with offends me on a basic level. For some reason, I couldn't let it go this time. I sat down tonight to the business of puzzling out just what the hell someone saw in that phrasing.

Bourbon usually helps in moments of frustrated reflection, so let's add a bottle of Evan Williams to the equation. All set now? Excellent.

To look at the phrase, we should understand the context of the idea. This idea was brought about by three friends talking about their motivations in life. One declared that his motivation was largely avoidance of death. This is a particularly silly motivation. If we are not born with the understanding that we are flying round trip, it is certainly a revelation most have before reaching adolescence. One does not jump from an airplane hoping not to hit the ground. For the most part, we try to enjoy the fall and land well. Most understand the notion of enjoying the fall, though we pursue it in various ways. A well paying job with the associated comforts and perhaps a family life for some. A drug fueled swan dive laced with the thrill of sex and violence for others. Whatever the style, we all gravitate towards our pleasures. It is the notion of the willful end that seems lost on us.

This seems a new idea, this resistance to the end. We have lost our touch for graceful exits, for knowing when the time has come and the end is here. We see this in everything from our infinite remakes and sequels, each a worse knockoff than the last, to our never ending televisions programs. We have lost our ability to let go of a good thing when its time has come. We are only capable of releasing what we have enjoyed when it has been destroyed utterly. After the thrill of it has been worn to nothing and the object in question raises either our disdain, then we leave it be. Alternatively, we still appreciate a good sacrifice. Somehow our taste for martyrdom has survived our fear of letting go of that which is pleasurable before every morsel of sensation has been wrung from it. Dying in a blaze of glory has merit. Letting go at the end of a life well lived is greater still.

I am reminded of the phrasing of “Dispute Between A Man and His Ba.”

Death is before me today
Like the recovery of a sick man,
Like the going forth into a garden after sickness

Death is before me today
Like the odor of myrrh,
Like sitting under a sail on a windy day.

Death is before me today
Like the course of the freshet,
Like the return of a man from the war-galley to his house.

Death is before me today
As a man longs to see his house
When he has spent years in captivity.

Can we remember how to let go with good grace? Until we learn to let go of the imitations of profundity, until we stop exchanging meaningful looks in the hope that the meaning will kick in later, we will never know.
I was walking into a QT a year or so ago with Phil to pick up a pack of cigarettes and lunch.  We walked across the street from work as it was fairly comfortable outside and we saw the most incredible thing.  It was a girl.  She looked to be about nineteen years old, though she could have been older.  She was barefoot, wearing an ankle length light brown dress.  She had this incredibly curly red-brown hair that was tied up neatly with a green ribbon.  Time seemed to stop when she smiled at us.  When she moved, it seemed more like she was dancing with purpose than walking.  Phil and I looked at each other, smiled, and didn't say a word. 

We both saw it, whatever it was that she had sitting behind her eyes and her smile that screamed "I am a human being and I embrace the joy of that knowledge effortlessly."  I found myself sitting up tonight wondering why that is so rare in the species.  Are we all really just that uncomfortable in our own skins?  Or are we just too absorbed to see it when it shows itself?

Can't decide which one I'd rather believe.

Tags: ,
Current Location: On my car
Current Mood: contemplative contemplative
Current Music: Marco Polo, Loreena McKennitt