Friday, November 18, 2011

Til Death



I just finished reading A Visit From the Goon Squad by Jennifer Egan (great book, by the way) and it got me thinking about something I rarely think about.

Death.

The Great Equalizer.

It's something everyone experiences, no matter if you are rich or poor, handicapped or "normal," black or white, famous or plain, had loving parents or not, and so on. Everyone lives and everyone dies, just some more than others. We're are all equal in death, and wherever life takes us we're all bound by the limitations of our mortality. For example...Steve Jobs was basically idolized and was a billionaire...but he still couldn't overcome death, just like any other Joe Schmo off the street. It really puts things in perspective.


What got me thinking about this is how the book was written. I suppose there's a "core" cast in the book, but there isn't really. The author takes you through a period of a character's life, and in the following chapter she takes you through another period of another character's life that may have been mentioned in the previous chapter and so on. It then hops around with no set timeline and ties itself together so you get the back story on several characters from when they were young, a glimpse of their life when they're old, how the characters are connected and so on.

It really makes you think about your mortality, or things related. Where will I be in 20 years? What if I'm not alive then? Would I be happy with the live I've lived?


Personally, death isn't something I have much experience with. My grandparents on my mom's side have both passed, as well as one of my uncles...but I didn't know them very well. The only other death in my extended family is my cousin drowning in the ocean in Taiwan when he was 13, while I was 12-13 at the time in America. I recall the day I heard the news vividly, because him and I got along swimmingly. We'd get in trouble together whenever I visited, doing things boys do...like exploring places you shouldn't be exploring and messing with the locals...and then getting disciplined together. I miss him, and sometimes wonder how different life would be if we grew up together, because pretty much all of my cousins are females.

Outside of that, all my friends and family are still alive and kicking. The only abject loss of a loved one I've experienced is when I had to put down Butch, my dog. (Damn you Marley & Me!!!) I don't count heartbreak with loss...because that's an entirely different situation altogether and I can't say for sure if I've had my heart broken. I've been rejected, sure and have had several disappointments, but getting rejected by someone you're infatuated with versus someone you love, who really knows who you truly are and not wanting anything to do with you are completely different ballparks. Haven't been there.

RIP homie
Anyway, back to death...it seems so far away. I'm in that youthful period people joke about where you still feel invincible and that you can live forever. Short-sighted, I know. In the grander scheme of things, our lifetime goes by in the blink of an eye before we enter the great unknown of the universe. You can plan to die when you're 80 or older, but you never know what might happen in this crazy ride called life. You can die tomorrow if you're not careful or if someone else is reckless.

I don't feel like I truly appreciate things because I haven't experienced much in terms of loss. It's true you don't know what you got until it's gone...but I'm trying to keep attuned to it. In the meantime...I just have to live in the present, because who knows where the world will be in 50 years and if my money will still have value? Live for experiences and not things...it's a great way to go, in moderation of course.

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