I GET A LOT OF EMAIL EVERYDAY. Very little of it is worth the electrons it’s written with. A good portion of it all comes from people trying to sell me something; Sunglasses, Art of questionable quality, Books (lots of books), and classes and seminars. I guess that means that they feel I am in desperate need of education – a point hard to dispute.
I also receive a bunch of things about writing; classes, communities, and handy dandy tools to transform me into the next big whatever. I already have the tools – a pen, paper, and coffee that have catapulted me to the bottom rung of the ladder of commercial success.
Just about every day I click on an email that is filled with “Prompts” – starting points to spur my writing horse into action. I usually ignore these “prompts” because I am already too busy trying to hold onto my galloping writing horse. Yesterday, however, one of these emails caught my bleary eye.
The very first prompt on their list said to, “Write about what it is you are afraid of.” Well, that got my attention. Everybody is afraid of something I would think. So, I took this prompt, opened up my notebook and started scribbling. The first thing I had to do was define “Afraid.”
Would an asteroid hurtling toward my head before lunch make me afraid? Probably, Yes, for a short time anyway. A short time would be all I’d have, I assume, and then my sense of “Oh, well, it was a fun ride,” would kick in and any real fear would dissipate.
Am I afraid of dying – The Big Checkout?
When I was a kid, Yes. I went to Catholic school for eight years. Actually, I think I was more afraid of the nuns – The Little Sisters of the Right Cross. An order of nuns where all of the sisters held a Black Belt in Theology.
As an adult I feared Death to a degree. I’ve never been all that healthy and I looked upon Death with resentment. To die would really be shortchanging me, throwing me out of the movie after the cartoon, but before the start of the feature film. It was fear mixed with the feeling that Life was dealing off the bottom of the deck.
Now, as I am firmly rooted in Geezerhood, and Death is becoming more or less imminent I find any fear rapidly washing away in the rain of things I have yet to do – and I have an extensive list of things that are crumpled up inside my own personal “Honey-Do Jar.”
Whatever sense of fear that may have been there when I was younger has faded away. Any post-mortal judgment is out of my hands. It is not mine to make. The big and bad things I’ve done in life are marked on the Divine clipboard and out of my reach.
Fearful? To quote Woody Allen, “I’m not afraid of dying. I’d just rather not be there when it happens,”
Everybody dies and, while I’m not much of a joiner, I don’t think I can get away with saying, “No, thank you. I think I’ll just sit this one out.”
My main concern about Death is that no matter when it happens – five seconds from now or decades down the pike – it will happen at an inconvenient time. I don’t want to keel over into my plate of tamales. I don’t want to shuffle off while I’m engaged in…in something I’d like to finish. When I go, let me go after I’m done with the book I’m reading or after that last bite of cheesecake, but before the waiter brings the bill.
When I die, no matter when, I hope that my last words will make those who hear them do a spit take or have their milk shoot out of their noses. Leave ‘em laughing.
To quote the apocryphal actor who, on his deathbed, offered up his last words, “Dying is easy. Comedy is hard.”