I was talking to my youngest son pictured here from my new book that has yet to be finished, “Don’t Drink the Kool-Aid”, about life, old age and my death as well as the fact that day is ever drawing closer.
We talked about those precious few minutes on the desert when I hovered between life and death five years ago this month. I remember seeing the light but no one came for me so I returned here for now. It affected my out look on the subject and I no longer fear death, but I have no intention on signing up for any military missions in the near future either. That of course is a mistake we all make, if only the old guys could sign up there would be a lot fewer battles to fight, but that is a topic for another day.
My son got really teary and started to tell me some very nice things that many sons may think but seldom tell their father. In fact most of us save the nice comments for the funeral and never speak of them to our family or friends. I don’t want to sound morbid but it got me thinking about death and the fact it is coming to all of us, so I thought I would look up what some of the famous have thought about death and share some of their thoughts with you as well as my own.
The great comic George Carlin may have put it simplest and best when he said, “Death is caused by swallowing small amounts of saliva over a long period of time.” It is going to happen, for some of us after swallowing less than others, so why not split it out (pun intended) and talk to each other about the topic.
We have all heard the quote by Benjamin Franklin, “In this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes.” Then the witty American philosopher, Will Rogers added to it saying, “The difference is that death doesn’t get any worse every time Congress meets. He could have a point, one of the things I look forward to each day is reading how much stupider our governments can become. I quit worrying or stressing about the things they do and have learned it is just a big show that we all paid the price for so why not sit back and enjoy it. One thing about this world is none of us are getting out alive.
What is death? “Some people die at 25 and aren’t buried until 75.” according to Benjamin Franklin. Life is so precious every minute should be experienced, enjoyed and savoured. There are so many things worse than death, such as spending a warm summer evening taking in a multi-level marking lecture on how to get rich quickly by just signing up two friends, who sign two friends and so on. I tried that a couple of times and was ready to kill myself before long, until I learned there is a far easier way to make a lot of money without pissing off everyone you know.
If you do piss off and lose all your friends then you will then experience a long and lingering death known as loneliness. In fact I see this as the next great plague of the future as I have never been lonelier than being surrounded in a city full of distracted strangers, yet each day we all retreat a little further into our own world thinking everything is great because we have 900 friends on Facebook, texting them from our phones even as they sit a few get away, and yet we have no one to sit with and just enjoy a coffee. I cannot imagine anything lonelier than having lived a long life with a friend, partner, spouse, only to have them die first. If they pass physically first there is still hope for new adventure with a new partner but if they die metaphorically you may be enchained for years to someone who died young but is not yet ready to bury. Norman Cousins may have summed it up when he said, “Death is not the greatest loss in life. The greatest loss is what dies inside us while we live.”
Albert Einstein phrased it as, “Intellectual growth should commence at birth and cease only at death.” I know I am not ready for death quite yet as I am still learning and have so much more to learn.
While my wife Myrna was going under sedation for the operation last week to remove her kidney she looked up at the doctors and said, “You know when you are dead, you don’t know you are dead. Your family knows you are dead, the doctors know you are dead, everyone knows you are dead except you. You don’t know you are dead.” They stood around the operating table looking down at her not sure why she was telling them that then she added, “It is the same way with stupid.” They all laughed and performed an outstanding operation because as old as they were they never stop learning, they know they are vibrant and alive. Could you imagine a room full of old surgeons who graduated in the early 70’s but did not learned a thing since, doing the operation? We are to learn and celebrate every day. I now believe that if you truly live each day you will live without fear and be fully prepared to die at anytime.
I saw the title of this blog, “I plan to live forever…” painted on the side of a barn in the middle of Stubbleville, USA and it struck me, then today I came across a quote by Groucho Marx, who said, “I intend to live forever, or die trying. So it hit me that dying would be a good topic, after I saw how it upset my son. You see he is 22 and has another 65 years or so ahead of him. He has so much to see, do and learn so the thought of death is scary.
I, on the other hand, have only a few years left but have accomplished almost every goal I set, which is sad I know however I digress. I have had a lot of fun. I found a true friend, partner and spouse, helped create a great family, traveled the world, owned and flew my own airplanes, painted and sold images of the north, played my guitar, flew my airplanes and rode my motorcycles all over North America. I have had the opportunity to write articles and books, and most important of all won the Soap Box Derby down main street in Rocky Mountain House fifty years ago. : )
I am sure that few of these things may be on your list or are things that you even want on your list but they were goals I set young and accomplished. I am happy with life and the thought of it ending no longer scares me.
However before I buy the farm, bite the big one, assume room temperature, cash in my chips, croak, go over the ridge, bite the dust, head for the last round-up, kick the bucket, meet my maker, turn up my toes or board the last train to glory, there are a few last things I would like to do but to find out what they are you will have to subscribe to this blog so you don’t miss it.
The final word goes to that great British Philosopher Mr. Keith Richards who summed up my thoughts exactly.