July 31, 2012

Our Old Friend Death

From my Project 365

(Let me just say, before I get started:  I’m not depressed at all, I swear!)

Early this morning, I’m taking my mom, who is 88, to get surgery for cataracts.  She’ll have her left eye done today and her right eye done in about a month.

Having surgery scares the dickens out of my mom.  Understandably.  She’s had problems with anesthesia in the past (though she won’t need it for this procedure), and when you’re 88 death is on your mind.

I don’t think she’s alone.  Death is wherever you look.

I was thinking about this as I was looking over my Project 365.  There are pictures of dead birds and dead bugs and other things.  There’s the picture of a gray desiccated leaf in the gutter that screams mortality (see above). 

Why do we exercise?  To look younger.  Why do we want to look younger? To escape death. Why do we eat health food?  A lot of times, it’s because we want to be healthy.  Why do we want to be healthy?  See above.  Why do we watch movies and read books and get high and get drunk and sleep too much? Because it’s right there, staring us in the face. Why do we do dangerous things? Why do we have sex?  Why do we build cities?  Why do we create art?  Why do we walk on the moon? Some would say, it’s all symbolic of our fight against time and death.

We spend inordinate amounts of time and energy trying to run away, to forget the fact.

Why do we have relationships?  Yeah, death, but also because it is the basic human condition to be alone.  We are alone inside our bodies.  We send signals out into the void, hoping to make a connection, but even when we are surrounded by friends, having a great time, assured of our place in the common humanity, we are trapped inside these casings of flesh and bone.  We all die alone.

I was just thinking about why I don’t find this depressing today.  Maybe because I spent a lot of time alone as a child, and I still crave alone time.  And also maybe because I’m surrounded and secure with family and friends.  My needs are met.

Ask me tomorrow.

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