Doornails

September 14, 2010 Comments Off on Doornails

Our family dog Heidi died this morning. She was the sweetest dog I’ve ever met and she adored us, and I think she had a good enough life that I’m not too broken up about her death. However, being me, I’ve been thinking a lot about death today.

What I’ve noticed is, whenever you think something about death (or at least whenever I do), you have to send a concentrated signal out into the universe that NO I DIDN’T REALLY MEAN IT, lest the universe decide to grant what it thinks was your wish. It’s as if Death is a kindly grandfather with poor hearing. “Eh? What’s that? Dead?” and he comes veering toward you and you have to say at the top of your lungs, “No, Grandpa, that was rhetorical” and he returns muttering to his favorite chair.

It’s as if the universe is waiting to catch you out. “Ah-ah, you said death first!” “Oh, but I meant cake!” Except the universe is not the Church of England and it will give you a death punch in the face. One of the sometimes-listed reasons for fearing death is its capriciousness. You might step out your door tomorrow morning and get nailed by a douchebag on one of those absurd trick bikes. There are all kinds of humiliating ways you could conceivably die, through no fault of your own. (There are also humiliating ways you could die through every fault of your own, but this is perhaps not the place to get into that.) But I would almost rather that death seem totally random rather than have this vague conviction that if I don’t disclaim my thoughts fast enough or loudly enough the universe might smite me.

My grandpa used to say you should live as if you had a piano hanging over your head. I find that I need to think as if God were about to hit the SMITE button. I apologize for or clarify just about every death-related thought I have, just in case. I don’t even know who I’m addressing. But I guess that’s faith.

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