2/19/2012

When I am King: Dying Wish

When I am King...

We’ll all die happy.

It was yesterday's junk mail that started me thinking about death.

I was sorting through the depressing stack of mail that had accumulated since the last time I suffered this chore. Aside: Remember when getting mail used to be exciting? I think that stops the moment you become an adult and every piece of mail is either charging you for something or advertising something ... that you can then be charged for. Where oh where are the penpals of yesteryear?

The envelope was addressed to me, from some generic company I’d never heard of. On the lower-left of the front was the following hook:
Free Pre-Paid Cremation!

At first, I quibbled about the logic; how can it be free if it’s pre-paid? That’s like saying my phone is free every month once I pay for it. Or like pretending I own my house even though I owe the bank more than I’ll make in a lifetime and I'm just lucky they let me keep living in it.

Then I realized the true nature of the message: they want me to die. Not only that: they expect me to die. Soon. And they want me to pay them for death services before it’s too late. After all, they’d better ask me now if they want to have any hope of getting my business. There aren’t many repeat customers in their line of work.

At first, I was offended. I mean, how could they be so callous when they don’t even know me? I expect people I know to want me to shrivel up and expire, but not total strangers. Get to know me first, then wish for my demise.

But then I realized that now is the perfect time for me to think about dying. In fact, it’s something that I should have been thinking about long before now; it’s something we should all be thinking about from the first moment of life.

Think about it: out of all of the things that we are, out of everything we do, from all of the things we attempt to the far smaller set of things we actually accomplish, what is the one thing that we can all count on in our lives (besides bad reality TV shows and conversations about the weather)? Death.

No matter who we are, no matter what skills we have or don’t have, we all stand an equal chance of dying. And that chance is 100%. There is no playing the odds here, there’s just a matter of when.

This state of affairs should bring some hope and satisfaction to all of us. How many things are we afraid of trying in life just because of fear of failure? But this is the one great event in life that we can all achieve to the same level of perfection, regardless of who we are and how fabulous we are. Death doesn’t take any particular level of education, and there’s no IQ test. You don’t need a lot of money, a steady income, or any income. You don’t need a solid relationship or even a single friend in the world. Death is the great equalizer, the uncle that gets along with all the cousins, the paid escort that loves us all equally for as long as we're paying her.

In fact, dying is the one activity that we are working on from the moment we are born. Of course we do other things in life: we eat, we have meaningless relationships, we watch really horrible movies. But all of these are transient activities, occupying but a blip of our overall life timeline. Meanwhile, the entire time we are alive we approach our doom. How satisfying is it to know that we can focus ourselves so completely and single-mindedly around one activity that we then, despite all of our other failures in life, achieve so completely?

When I am King, we’ll all die happy, knowing that we have accomplished the goal that we set out to perform from the start.

In retrospect, I should find that piece of cremation junk mail. I’m dying to find out more about it.





Speaking of death, a friend of mine wrote a book about planning your funeral called The Party of Your Life. This seems like a good a time to mention it. If you find yourself contemplating your expiration date, you might want to check it out.


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