Its a rare opportunity when we can write our own obituary. Its once in a lifetime. Birth announcements precede births. These days the birth announcements include ultrasound sex reveals. Death announcements, aside from executions, are less common. Possibly because we habitually put off the idea of death, denying its inevitability. A couple of days ago in the early evening, the 13th of April specifically, I noticed an irritation in my throat. From there it was the all too familiar onset of a chest cold. Now, days later its still a chest cold. It will remain a chest cold until an expert gives it another title. The viruses don’t wear name tags. The symptoms, principly coughing, increase day to day. No dizziness, no fever. Weakness maybe. Hard to tell with my advanced age. Weakness comes and goes like the sun thru cloud. I will be 75 in a couple of days. Will that be my high water mark? Is the tide about to turn?
When this Covid thing broke upon us a year ago I experienced mild panic as many of us did. I started thinking about my possible demise. Down from the shelf I took a book. “The Tibetan book of living and dieing” by Sogyal Rinpoche. The author stood between two worlds. The mostly secular west and Tibet, a Buddhist kingdom for hundreds of years. Boiled down to an essence his view was that we leave life in the way we lived it. In fear, in apprehension, or with acceptance and calm. For the follower of the Buddha the quality of our passing puts a stamp on our journey thru the afterlife and rebirth. In the west we tend to see a baby as a clean slate. The story of their life is written by fate on empty pages. In my understanding the Buddhist believes a newborn carries the baggage of former lives. That baggage being unresolved conflict, fear, angst. So the way we live informs the way we die. Mechanically its simple. The heart stops supplying blood to the brain and awareness and consciousness fade. But we are mental and spiritual as much as we are mechanism.
In the world I leave I want my oversized corpse burned. As I enter the next world I will do so walking down a forest path. Sunlight in the leaves above. I want the music of Satie, the Belle Epoque French composer. No flowers please. Leave them in the ground. Let them have their life, their short season. As I had mine.
In the event (as the Brits say), I didn’t cross over to the other side. But I will. I promise. Some day in the not too distant future. Let this stand as my obit. No update is needed.