New Web Page -- 6 August 2003
Consider the following psychological profile test -- sort of an ink blot test, but not quite as messy. You are in a dark room, sitting in a chair. There are no doors, no windows, and no openings into the room of any kind. There is only a floor, ceiling and four walls, the chair you're sitting in, and you. As you sit in the total darkness, you feel a breeze.
In three words (or short phrases), describe your feelings.
For example: One respondent chose curiosity, expectation, a slight grin.
Now do your own three: _______________, _______________, _____________.
Those three words describe your feelings about death.
If terror or an equivalent was in your description, continue reading. Otherwise, continue reading. And in all other cases, continue reading.
You're not laughing? Why not?
Death -- even when viewed from the perspective of Love N' Death -- is something which tends to instill awe. This may be an ideal perspective in that, as Matthew Fox has said, "Awe is the beginning of Wisdom."
But death is also something which has been notoriously misunderstood, and in many respects, this misunderstanding has been promulgated, encouraged, and promoted as a means of control by various covert agendas. According to: <http:www.vibrani.com/EnkiPlato.htm>, it has become something out of control, not our responsibility, and more often than not arriving at an inappropriate time.
At the same time, according to some sources, the last words many people utter upon realizing they are about to die (as, for example, recorded on airplane flight recorders) is: "Oh, shit!" This speaks volumes about the inconvenient timing of death, if not a great deal more.
What is inevitably forgotten in the death process is that the transition -- in any situation -- is in reality, about Death and Rebirth. Death is not the end, but just the closing of one door prior to the next one (or many other doors) being opened. Obviously, the solution is to concentrate more on the fascination of the rebirth (into something inevitably more interesting, exciting, delightful, and just sheer fun), than on the prerequisite of first ending the less delightful portion of a continuous life.
In fact, death is more a curiosity than a thing to be feared. It's more like the next movie of which you haven't seen even a trailer or pre-release publicity. And the next movie might have a better cast, improved scenery, and a vastly improved, rewritten script -- preferably from a former, multiple academy award winner.
Furthermore, if the ultimate purpose of life is to gather material for a stand up comic routine later on, then death is also part of the package -- sort of the final joke in the routine, the one designed for the biggest laugh.
Admittedly, death is not generally considered the most amusing of subjects. But this probably depends upon your perspective. There is in fact considerable mirth in the subject.
Take, for example, the example of the skyscraper window washer who was so impressed with the strength of the commercial windows he washed that he enjoyed taking a ten foot running jump at a window (from the inside) in order to prove how strong they were. This went swimmingly until one of the windows shattered upon his impact and he promptly fell 27 floors to his death.
Such antics have been memorialized in annual reviews of the dumbest means by which people have temporarily or permanently removed themselves from the gene pool. Like one awardee who poured gasoline down a gopher hole to rid himself of the pest, and then lit a match in order to see down into the hole to see if he was successful.
Various authors have tabulated the unique and diverse means whereby otherwise intelligent people have met the grim (or grinning) reaper. Dying from an explosion in a grain elevator is a case in point. Not all that amusing, but at least somewhat original.
But originality in the death-defying rites of funerals seemingly knows no bounds. One might think building one of the Seven Wonders of the World, The Great Pyramids of Giza, would constitute an early attempt. But of course the idea that the pyramids were used as repositories for the dead is, as it turns out, quite ridiculous.
In more modern times, "the funeral is getting a makeover as a growing number of Americans have begun thinking outside the box, so to speak, about how they want to say goodbye to their loved ones."  In lieu of ho-hum, weepy ceremonies, celebrations are becoming the vogue.
The traditional Irish wake -- which was really intended to see if whether a supposedly a dead person might yet wake up (from a drunken stupor or whatever) -- and the typical New Orleans brass band on its return from the cemetery have both been early versions. But nowadays, the celebration of life is making its impact with custom-made coffins, Harleys of Corvettes leading the procession, and wakes as garden parties.
Custom caskets include a twelve foot lobster-shaped work of art (but which only has enough room for the intended's ashes. Burials at sea fit into an ecological niche whereby ashes formed into concrete "reef balls" can be deposited on the ocean floor. Cremated remains can converted into diamonds ("...are forever") for select mourners to wear thereafter, fused into other forms of artwork, and even "stuffed into fireworks for those who want an exit with a real bang."  Finally, for the high spenders, cremated remains can be launched into orbit.
And you think these people had no sense of humor? Or possibly, just no sense?
If nothing else, there is definitely on the rise a different feeling about what death is all about. And if one can make the additional statement that they went thata way... Then so much the better.
Or forward to:
 Lisa Takeuchi Cullen, "What a Way to Go", Time Magazine, July 7, 2003, pg 88-91.
2003© Copyright Dan Sewell Ward, All Rights Reserved [Feedback]