Thursday, June 11, 2009

A Hard Day's Hiatus

Life is a tough row to hoe, or if it's like boating with a hard scrabble gal I used to know, a tough ho to row. That's just a joke. I never actually went boating with her.

Life is tough. You get up in the morning slavin' for bread, suh, so that every mouth can be fed. But as tough as it is, guess what, I'm smiling right now.

Yesterday I went through a cemetery and was thinking over the issues of life and happiness, life and mortality, life and death. I was stunned to see how many epitaphs there are on tombstones that are some variation of this phrase, "Never Had A Hiatus." Seriously. I bet I saw it a couple dozen times. Like "Red Buttons / 1919-2006 / Never Got A Hiatus."

It made me start thinking of my own demise sometime in the next 50 years. Whether I'll see it coming, know it's coming, or whether I'll just wander toward the light in my sleep. I'd kind of like to be awake for it really. Because I can't tell in my dreams what's real and what isn't.

But if you think about your own death, it gives you some insights and also some help in deciding what to do with your life. My own epitaph might be "Longest Hiatus On Record," which would be cool. Or "Local Man Takes Hiatus," picking up on one of my most beloved self images. As for the insights, just think, every chair you've ever sat in will no longer have you on display. You'll be gone.

I don't know if I mentioned the theory I have -- it seems like I mentioned it -- which is this: If you don't leave the place you are you'll never die. It's something like that. Like let's say you're at church, in your favorite pew. You show up, you sit there, the service ends, you get up and leave. Big mistake! You should sit there as long as you can, literally until they carry you out. Because, according to my theory, the longer you stay right where you are, the longer you will live.

It doesn't pertain strictly that you need to stay right where you are. For instance, if you were at home, it doesn't hold that you should only stay home. Because then you might die at home and people would be saying, if only he had been somewhere else and stayed there, he wouldn't have died. That's what I'd say, for sure, because it is my theory.

On the other hand, it can be a very fitting choice, the best choice, to leave a place. It all depends. Let's say there's a hotel you stay at once in a while. But then 10 years later you drive by and see they've torn it down. In that case you can be thankful you left when you did, because it's always better to get out of a building before it's demolished.

Grandpa didn't die at home. He was in the hospital. But I still contend, had he been at home it would've never happened. At least not right then like that. Because he could've looked up and seen his own things. Maybe that's the reason. Or we could look at it like my church example. He stayed at home as long as he could, surviving every minute of it. Then they carried him out, through no choice of his own. And then he died, meaning it might've been his time.

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