Disclaimer: I am one third ironic, one third petty, and one third brooding. It’s a wonderful, organic blend that creates a perfect approach to life. It is also a perfect approach to death, which is a part of life that generally comes near the end.
A few years ago, while at a funeral, I heard one grieving individual tell another, “Well, at least he died doing something he loved.” I wonder what the dead guy has to say about that, I thought. Based on this, I have a favor to ask of everyone who may find themselves in a position of mourning me when I pass. Don’t ever console yourselves by saying that I died doing something I loved. I will never die doing something I love and even if I do, I will never admit to liking anything that ended up killing me.
The reason is quite simple; if I am doing something that I love, and it suddenly begins killing me, I will change my mind and deny that I ever loved the activity to begin with. Put simply, dying will negate any warm feelings I ever had for said activity. It doesn’t even matter what the activity is.
These days I love a lot of things, but that is only because they are fun and haven’t killed me yet. If, one day, I am on a hike or at a baseball game and I suddenly begin dying, I will never say, “Whew, I sure am glad an activity I love so much is killing me!” That doesn’t sound like something I would ever say. In fact, my last thought will most certainly be, “Sitting in my Eames Chair not dying would’ve been a better way to spend my afternoon.”
I can confidently announce that I won’t die doing something I love based on an accident I had a few years ago. I dislocated my shoulder while out on a solo hike. It didn’t kill me but it really, really hurt. The pain was rather intolerable, actually, as I trekked 3 miles down rocky terrain to my car for a 45 minute ride to the hospital. For a good while afterwards, I hated hiking. Imagine how I would’ve viewed hiking if it actually killed me?
Based on my own, not necessarily near death experience, I believe that death automatically diminishes the popularity of whatever activity you are doing when it happens. Or at least, it should.
Besides, I don’t want to give anyone who outlives me the satisfaction of being able to console themselves so easily. Simply resigning yourself to the fact that someone else’s death was enjoyable, at least from the deceased’s point of view, lacks creativity. You cannot understand any of this until you die in someone else’s shoes and it is therefore presumptuous to assume that you can. Nor will I be in a position to care about your need to console yourself over my loss anyway. If I were in the position to do so, I wouldn’t. At least you are still alive to do the fun stuff that hasn’t killed you yet, unlike me.
I fully recognize that this is all rather morbid and the chances I actually do die doing something I used to love before it began killing me, is quite remote. Still, it’s worth mentioning for the record and I’d appreciate you honoring my request. Failure to honor my request would really be disrespectful, even if I can’t tell you so when it happens.