“People living deep lives have no fear of death.”
— Anais Nin
* * * *
“You say it’s your birthday…”
–Sir Paul McCartney
It was a cold, dark and stormy night 67 years ago in that crumbling little Southern hamlet they call Navasota, Texas.
Wild dawgs were prowling and wolves on the outskirts of town were howling when Dr. Ketchum handed a newborn boy over to Goldie McKay and said, “Congratulations, Goldie.”
Whereupon Goldie inspected her pinkish newborn boy and screamed, “OMG! He’s got his daddy’s Jitterbug legs!”
In the distance the townspeople heard Satan laughing with delight
* * *
But (somewhat) seriously, ladies and germs.
In my misspent youth (hey, it was the sixties; and seventies; followed by the eighties), I used to say:
“Have em play ‘Born to Be Wild’ at My funeral!”
I was thinking as we tend to do when we’re young and stoopid that I was invincible and would never be in need of a funeral.
I’d still be fine with that rock anthem being played at my funeral, but also some Judy Collins doing “Amazing Grace” (the best version ever in my book, and it A cappella) and Leonard Cohen doing “Anthem.” (Take note here, kids.)
Not that I’m planning for a funeral anytime soon. But having walked through the valley with so many people who had to face up to their mortality when I was a practicing hospital and hospice chaplain, I’ve come to appreciate death as much as life.
Appreciating every day the cold, hard fact that you’re going to be no more some day makes good living urgent.
* * *
I’m living good, and wouldn’t want to go back to my wild and crazy teens or twenties or any other age. Whereas I used to shout out at parties, “Vino! More WINE for my WIMMEN!”, I’m now likely to be turning out the light by 9, 10, 11 if a night football game is in overtime.
It’s lights out after reading whatever novel I have on my nightstand along with my Book of Common Prayer for nightly prayers, and lifting up those who’ve asked me to pray for them (your requests are always welcome and taken seriously), and my random reading of Psalms.
Living alone as I do in a humble little man cave, my idea of a good time at night is squeezing a roll of Charmin while sipping my daily 6 to 8 ounces of Kombucha or Chaya tea I get from a shaman who is a descendent of Mayans who tramped around my part of Belize thousands of years ago.
The Shaman’s Mayan name is too hard for me to deal with, but he goes by the name “Earl” anyway. (I’m blessed to be living this good life of mine in the oddest nation on Earth: Belize.)
That said, I still do have my wild side and always will.
I dance in the shower every day like nobody’s watching, for example, since nobody is.
But sometimes in public places too.
Stay wild, my friends.