After You’d Gone.
What do you imagine it will say on your grave stone when you die? Do you imagine it? Do you even entertain the possibility of death, or do you like to pretend it isn’t creeping closer and closer with every passing day? I can understand it if you do, because who likes to accept the truth about death? If we could do that, really accept that it’s coming for us I mean, then I’m guessing there would be a lot less of us drinking, smoking, eating bad foods, taking drugs and not taking exercise. We’d all be trying to prepare for the least drawn out death in the most painless way at a time incredibly distal to where we are right now. 80 years from now would be nice, or even more.
But we’re not like that, not in the majority. We like to pretend death isn’t a part of life, although it is, of course it is.
Sometimes I think about my gravestone, but only as a joke. In reality, I don’t suppose I’ll care much if it exists or what it says. I’ll be dead. It won’t bother me. But it’s fun sometimes to imagine. I joked to Sheldon the other day that it will say
And Sheldon joked that his would say
‘Sheldon K. Goodman’
followed by every piece of information ever to exist in the world, written really really small.
We visit Cemeteries and we look at grave stones and we try to imagine what those people were like, what their lives were like. Sometimes we take it to another level, and research their lives. Sometimes with a mere Google search, like we did for John Saint John Long when we found his stone at Kensal Green Cemetery. Sometimes, like with the ongoing story of Montague Fowler, it’s a bit more advanced than that. I wonder if these people ever imagined that one day, someone would come along who would see their grave and want to learn more about them? I wonder if people will do that for us?
Today’s post isn’t really leading anywhere and it doesn’t have a conclusion. It’s just a collection of thoughts. It might also seem a bit morbid. I don’t mean it to be. It is interesting though, that death is coming for us all eventually, such a staple of life that if it were an actual entity, it would be next to bread and butter on a supermarket shelf, and yet it’s such a taboo subject. We don’t like to talk about it. We don’t like to plan for it. And we definitely don’t like to think about it.
But sometimes I think it is good to think about it – at least insofar as how we would like to be remembered when we’re gone. Not just in terms of what it says on our gravestones, if we have them, but also in terms of the difference we made when we were alive.
I had a conversation recently with a friend who was having an existential crisis (something I also get struck with quite often). She was worrying about what sort of difference she was making – how was she changing the world with what she was doing? Her job, her life. How was she helping the universe with her life?
And I said – you know, it’s not really about trying to change the world. Because that’s a tall order. It’s more about trying to make a positive difference in the tiny part of the world that we exist in. In the hope that it will spread outwards.
And I think there’s something in that.
For my part, it’s not so that something great can be written on my gravestone and everyone can look at it and think what a good and noble person I was. It’s more just so that I can sleep at night without hating myself, and so that I can have faith that the world isn’t just a terrible, terrible place where bad things happen.
And anyway, on my gravestone, as we already know, it’s going to say:-
And then, if I have anything to do with it, there will also be a picture of a kitten sitting on a cloud.
In the Car, Ready to Go.