I am just about to turn 50 years old, and I am a reflective person by nature. In my mind, the equation “50 years old + reflective = time to ponder death”. This may not be the solution to the equation for others, but its my brain and that’s how I roll. So, back to death. I have been thinking about it. A lot. And mind you, I am someone who has always pondered the nature of existence and its inescapable expiration date, so when I say death has been on my mind it turns me into a caricature of my already self absorbed, angst ridden self. Picture dark room, mostly consumed bottle of absinthe, copy of Nietzsche’s greatest hits on the bedside table and Mozart’s “Requiem” playing in background. That’s the scene set in my mind.
The events leading to this dismal scene keep sucker punching me- the late life yet deeply sad deaths of both my grandmothers, my proactive career end, menopause (not the musical), famous icons of my youth crossing the river Styx (though thank goodness not the band members themselves yet), and finally, nail in the coffin, the election of the host of “The Apprentice” as President of the United States of America. That final blow a bitter reminder to me that there are things worse than dying.
I’m reeling, mentally punch drunk from it all. Not sad so much as dazed and confused. What does this have to do with the blog title? Well, in spite of my morose state, I do tend to look for the good in things, the world and people. I’m relentlessly optimistic. And so, I have chosen the thing I love most about funerals, about deaths and endings, the eulogy, and decided to bring it into this time when the ends of things sit around me like so many abandoned bookends, and try to focus on what matters. What matters is what we say when people die. We think back to the central facets of who they are, and reflect those things about them that were the best, the most authentic, the kindest, the funniest. Even the flaws and the challenges of their lives become less about judgment and more about homage to the complexities of the life they lived. The life we all live. The connectedness we all share.
I need that right now. I need to pay tribute to it, as eulogies do. I need to remember kindness, goodness and compassion so I can survive in this new reality. So I am writing Eulogies for the Living as both reminder and prayer. An active meditation.