Skip to main content

EULOGIZE ME



If you had to eulogize yourself, what would you say? It is usually considered the height of arrogance to refer to oneself in the third person, not to mention self-referential to the extreme, but imagining you were speaking at your own funeral allows you to step outside yourself for a moment and view your life from the standpoint of a total stranger. 

Granted, strangers don't usually make cemetery speeches. But in order to achieve an accurate assessment of your days on earth, complete impartiality is required, and, odd as it may seem, no one can view you as objectively as someone you've never met. You wonder why can't you see yourself through the eyes of your best friend. They say our friends are wise to our faults. Yes, but they are also kind, and this exercise requires a certain amount of ruthlessness. So add to the insight of an intimate acquaintance the complete knowledge of your own life that only the liver possesses and combine with the impeccable objectivity of somebody who doesn't know you from Adam, since we're being self-referential. After all this is what you will do when you die, if reports from seances and near death experiences are to be believed. In the hereafter, we all stand in judgement, of ourselves. So why not die a little bit today, since it's happening anyway.

So here goes:

"You better watch what you wish for 'cause you just might get it" was the theme of Adam's life, may God rest him. Constitutionally circumspect, he saw the inconveniences inherent in the fulfillment of any desire, so he wanted nothing. He also knew that desire governs the world of attainment. That we act out our wishes. And that, without a want we are left without a motor, a tugboat drifting through the sea of humanity. Having to occupy his time somehow, and not having a distinct inclination one way or another, he decided to go the route of the challenge, to do those things which he didn't really like to do, which his spirit revolted against, and do them as best he could. All in the name of turning desire on its head.

As a schoolboy, Adam dreaded the essay. Writing even a mere 500 words was for him like pulling so many teeth. So after leaving college he decided to try his hand at long fiction. He eventually completed a novel of 100,000 words, arguably more words than everything he composed from grades 1 through 12, taken together. A real feat. Nobody noticed, so he put the pen down and tackled something else.

Adam also hated to run. Specifically any distance longer than 90 feet, which on the baseball diamond is the length of the base path, made his soul cringe. You'd have thought that when his playing days were over he'd have hung up the cleats and, I dunno, gone fishing. Instead he signed up for a marathon. He ran 6 of them within the span of a year. If under 3 hours is the mark of a "real runner," why not do that too, and barefoot? A strange logic characterized this man's actions. You might think him a bit unhinged, which was the opinion of anybody who ever saw the guy prance around sans shoes.

Adam's third fear was science. This seems odd, since science and language are left-brained pursuits, and being right-handed, Adam should have been at home in the realms of words and equations. But he disliked both, and the latter, with relish. The only Cs he ever got in high school were in science and math, and he avoided these subjects in college as best he could. Given this natural aversion, Adam undertook the completion of a medical degree, with no more Cs. 

And why not? They say one should step out of one's comfort zone once in a while. Adam practically lived there. For over twenty years his waking hours were devoted to things he couldn't stand. But hey, what doesn't kill you will only make you stronger. Or make you wish you were already dead. But one can't sit in meditation forever. We are given legs to move through space, so why not let them carry you as fast as you can through 33 miles at elevation, I mean right?

The Universe doesn't seem to care who does something, as long as it gets done. Though never a success in the traditional sense of doing what he loved, doing it well and being paid handsomely for it, Adam was content that other writers had written what he himself would have liked to write, and other doctors too. "We're all one anyway, aspects of the same formless wonder." This was his second favorite pet phrase.

To characterize Adam's life as one of "false starts and near misses," while true, misses the point. Despite never selling a book or practicing medicine on his own, he accomplished everything he set out to achieve. Except for having kids. But he believed he'd feel towards his own children the way he felt about work at the hospital, and want out of the whole ordeal the moment he got in. Which is why he "pulled out," so many times in his few precious years of living and loving. But in the afterlife, intention takes precedence over outcome. And Adam's intentions were always pure. He wanted to please his loved ones, even if the price was his own displeasure. 

So Adam, here's to hoping you're still pulling out in heaven, and after a life of trudging through tedium, finally achieving the rest you so deserve.

Of course, regarding yourself with the impartiality of a stranger is only one side of the coin. The other is to see strangers as aspects of you. This way you become more forgiving of other people's shortcomings and also more conscious of your own. If I could find a girl who was capable of this twin feat I'd even consider having a kid. Because I do need someone to read this when I'm gone.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

GRAY MATTERS

I was watching the TV show Naked and Afraid last night as I sometimes do. The show teams together two strangers, a man and a woman, who attempt to survive on their own for a period of 21 days in some remote and isolated region. Some of the locales featured include the Australian Outback, the Amazonian rainforest and the African Savanna. The man may have a military background, or be an adventurist or deep sea fisherman. Sometimes he's an ordinary dude who lives with mom. The woman is a park ranger or extreme fitness enthusiast or "just a mom" herself. Sometimes the couple quarrel, sometimes one or both "tap out" (quit) in a fit of anger or illness. It is satisfying to see them actually make it through the challenge and reach their extraction point. The victors are usually exhausted, emaciated, begrimed and bare ass naked. 

Even more satisfying, at least for me, is the occasional ass shot, snuck in at strategic intervals to boost viewership, of course. It's co…

ON MIND-STUFF

I hereby proclaim that June is meditation month. And July and August and some of September too. For me at least. During the hundred days that comprise summer, give or take, I have taken it upon myself to "assume the position" for approximately one hour each day, usually divided into two 30-minute sessions. During this time I sit in front of a candle flame, let my breathing subside, and with it my mental activity, and literally count the seconds.

The reductive tendency that is emblematic of science has penetrated schools of meditation, and there are many, each of which advertises its particular breed as, if not being the best, at least boasting novel or specific benefits not found in other forms of meditation. 

For example, there is mindfulness, which is the monitoring of thoughts. There is concentration or focus, as on an object or the breath. There is transcendental meditation, which uses the inward repetition of a phrase, or mantra, to "allow your active mind to easily …

S.O.S

To be spontaneous or systematic, that's the question. Or SOS, as the Police sing. Within me these two opposing characteristics are ever at war. I suppose we're all born more of the former. What child is not up for a trip to the candy store on a whim? But our educational system drums in the systematic approach to problem solving. You must progress from number 1 to 10 on your test. Each class is 50 minutes long. Etc. And indeed having a schedule and being methodical can lead to greater material success. If you only do what you feel like you may never study math, or organize your closet. But enslaving yourself to a ritual can suck all the fun out of life. To reconcile the two approaches we've evolved the weekend, which is basically a short vacation from the rigid workday, a time to play in an unstructured way. The athlete has his rest days, a time away from play. The family has the trip to the Bahamas. There are semester breaks in school, though having an entire summer off is…