Thursday, April 4, 2013
The Gaping Maw of Death (Woof! Woof!)
I've really been enjoying my friendship with Death (see links below). Especially the times when we're able to talk. Not just chit chat, but on some of the deeper philosophical questions involving life and death. He's a very meticulous craftsman, of course, eventually getting each of us. So who better to share with?
Earlier today, Death and I were out on the half acre where I live, walking along, and talking over these things, life and especially the nature of death. He was explaining to me in some grim detail about the death of numerous folks, how badly they take it, their intense struggle, etc., until finally he said, "They are ground up in the gaping maw of death."
At that point, almost involuntarily, I went, "Woof! Woof!"
Up till then he'd only known me as a serious person. Which is true. But I couldn't help it. He asked, "What's the woofing for?" I had to laugh, realizing I had woofed. I told him the whole story of my old dog, Wuss, who always barked back when Grandpa would call for Grandma, "Ma!" It became something of a family joke, something to mimic. "Woof! Woof!"
We sat down in the shade by the garage. Death laughed, but proceeded his talk, again getting serious. He went into a long explanation of the process of death, in great detail, including not just people, but animals, etc. He said, "All of you, and nature, at some point are chewed up in the gaping maw."
Again, I went, "Woof! Woof!" Death slapped his forehead, a little pissed that it seemed like I was cheapening life and death -- his work -- by constantly harking back to my old dog and what was apparently his single trick.
The third time we were over at the well getting a cold drink of water, and Death again got involved in the discussion of death. He was very serious, because I had asked if it's actually a universal process, quite apart from our mythology of it being the penalty for original sin, etc. And he said, "Yes," explaining that it's in the nature of creatures everywhere to eventually die, sin having nothing to do with it.
By universal, I had meant just that, life on other planets. He went on, sharing with me very illuminating revelations, with parts of his talk granting me inside knowledge on civilizations thousands of light years away, if only I could remember what he said. Parts of it were very philosophical and, thinking of the inner makeup of alien lifeforms especially, were quite dry. The key point I remember was this: "All of them are eventually consumed in this vast gaping maw."
I started to say it, then he anticipated me, and put his hand out as if to prompt me, "Woof! Woof!" He asked, "Have you about got it out of your system?" I threw up my hands as if to say, "I'm sorry, it's a dreadful habit, but, you know, the dog and everything, Grandpa, Grandma, it's in my system like a heroin addiction!"
Finally, back in the house at the table, we continued our discussion. I reflected on Death as someone who obviously relishes his work, while being one of the rare ones -- the only one? -- to have such a thorough philosophy on his job and its nature. Perhaps the only other ones would be strippers, who like saints are the most rewarded when they have the least.
Again, he was completely serious, expounding at length about how misunderstood the reality of death is. He ruminated on our vanity of denying and hiding death and the process, and on everything we do to try to stave it off, which he agreed is understandable; perhaps we're looking forward to the graduation of our first grandchild, etc., something irrational but understandable as part of our present egoism, acting as dualistic, not holistic beings. He thrust his hands up in something approaching complete exasperation, then said, "And all the while this is what's awaiting them, exactly what they dread the most, the gaping maw."
This time Death caught himself, and looking at me, jumped in with his own, "Woof! Woof!" Of course I gave him two thumbs up. He laughed and said, "Now you've even got me doing it!"
Death -- I Now Pronounce You Dead
Out Drinking with Death
Death Goes to the Dentist with Me
Death -- When Your Number's Up
Walt's Suicide -- Death by Water