Monday, October 29, 2007

I Believe You'll Find it a Stimulating Exercise.

"And they have no purpose that unites them, so they just drift around blundering through life until they die… which they know is coming yet every single one of them is surprised when it happens to them."
Anya - Buffy the Vampire Slayer 7.21, "End of Days"

For some time I have had it in mind to write a eulogy for myself. It occurred to me one day that, as well as a good exercise in writing, it might be an interesting way to sort out my life goals...kind of like a to-do list in reverse. It is thought that mentally celebrating victories you have not yet experienced, is a good way to ensure that you DO experience them. This was the basis for my first idea - to write about myself as if my life was over, and to detail the accomplishments and failures of it as though they were finished. I thought this would help me to clarify the ambitions I have for the next 34 years.

As I wrote the piece, I found to my surprise it morphed into something quite different from my intention. It became an examination of my self, rather than my life...and a chronicle only up to the point I've actually lived - not a projection about my future. I was surprised, when I finished it, at what my subconscious had chosen to include - and to omit. And the words had taken on a mournful, regretful quality I hadn't expected.

I suspect this was a reflection of my true state of mind. Imagining one's future adventures requires an optimism I don't have. It requires a certain brightness I just can't see. You need a spark of hope and enthusiasm that, at this moment in my life, I lack. All I was capable of, when imagining The End, was a vision of my life as it is now, over.

I guess that's what actually happens, isn't it? Your life is never fully lived, or finished - your intentions remain just that: intentions. Your plans die with you. Somebody comes into your house, packs up your stash, and sends it to the thrift store while your spectre stands there aghast, fluttering its translucent hands anxiously and moaning, "But.....but.....that's first-cut baby alpaca! I got that at Rhinebeck!"*

* As an aside, distribution of my stash was the only personal bequest I added to my will. Because that would just be a crying shame.

I will tell you, I wasn't sure whether to post that piece, or not. I thought - and correctly - I would get some uneasy comments and emails about my exact motivation for writing it. And to be honest, it does require a certain melancholy even to conceive such a thing. But I'm glad I did post it, because the response was moving....and surprising.

The response was so moving, in fact, that I got an idea. A wonderful, awful idea.

I want to read yours. Your eulogy in honour of yourself; your obituary; your gravestone, whatever. Delve deep. Look within. Examine your heart, and dig it all up - the stuff of your life and the truth about yourself. I think this is a pretty cool - and damn original - meme and though I swore I would never do this part, I'm tagging You.

November 2 is the Day of the Dead. It's a holiday mostly celebrated in Latin America, to remember dead friends and relatives. (And there are sugar skulls involved.) Wiki says this:

Though the subject matter may be considered morbid from the perspective of some other cultures, celebrants typically approach the Day of the Dead joyfully, and though it occurs roughly at the same time as Hallowe'en, All Saints' Day and All Souls' Day, the traditional mood is much brighter with emphasis on celebrating and honoring the lives of the deceased, and celebrating the continuation of life; the belief is not that death is the end, but rather the beginning of a new stage in life.
So what do you think? Will you publish your own eulogy on the Day of the Dead?

I would love for you to leave a comment with a link to your Famous Last Words. And if you think it's a cool idea and an interesting challenge, by all means spread the word. It would be an amazing and emotional day spent reading post after post full of the Truth of the Heart.


Jenny said...

I will do this!! I'm feeling emotional thinking about it!
Will spread the word!!

uberstrickenfrau said...

ack. I think I will be depressed doing this but, I will give it a go.

Kate said...

Truthfully, I don't know if I'm comfortable showing it to the world.
I'll have to think about it.

Gwen said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Gwen said...

^ that was me, with an unfinished thought.

Ditto to Kate. I think I'll do it, but I don't know about posting it. It's much easier to blog about shallow silliness than to actually put bits of myself out there for the world to see. I'll see how it goes, though.

Tabatha said...

Kevin and I saw a documentary about the Day of the Dead when we were in Seminary and so we decided to visit the cemetery and say some prayers for the departed. We continued that little tradition when Kevin's mom passed away and we said a mini Pannikhida (memorial prayers for the departed) at her grave site on Hallowe'en but we haven't done that since we moved here.

Ames said...

I'll try for you, dear.

lizbon said...

I love this idea, though the doing of it may be somewhat terrifying. I will do it and post it, properly, on the 2nd. Dear oh dear oh dear, said the White Rabbit, or words to that effect.

You know, I didn't find the words of your elegy mournful; I found them beautiful and bracing. It was only the idea of it being an elegy, I suppose, and the idea that you might've been feeling - well, the way you just described - to have written it.

uberstrickenfrau said...

Ok, I did it today cuz who knows if or when Nov.2 will come. And shallow silliness is getting an underserved bad rap!!!!

Sandy said...

I'm all for taking stock - been doing a fair bit of that myself lately. I'm not trying to sound unduly lachrymose, but my own eulogy has been biting my butt, or hounding my steps, or haunting my nights...or something. I'm thinking about it, but I don't think I can write it. Not yet.

Gwen said...

Did it today.