No one I’m close to has died recently but because I think about death a lot-as my husband reminded me yesterday eve when I was recalling a dear departed colleague after dinner–I decided to pen a few random thoughts on this obsession. A low key pizza and wine dinner to kick off our 36th anniversary weekend was obviously a fun but sobering reminder of the passage of time– all those Friday nite campus pizza dates at MIT!!–of lessons learnt, of love’s ebb and flow, of the miracle of giving birth to new lives entwined with the knowledge that it’s all going, going, going…..

It’s true death is a constant presence in my thoughts- but isn’t that so for anyone who lives life in travel mode? It’s a truism that we’re all travelers and that life is a journey but some of us inhabit the cliche more literally than others I suppose; I know I do and always have and I wonder if that is tied to a childhood spent taking off from terra firma, landing in far corners of the earth from what counted as “home” -and which imparted a lifelong adventurous approach to being in the world, but also a constant awareness of change, of flux, of letting go, dying as it were, so as to enable entry at new ports of call, different destinations, a new life that I might enter only if I could let go of the old one.

Will the big D be like all these little deaths? The thing is, I’ve managed to keep all of those past places and psychic spaces knit together in an ever-expanding mosaic of emotional and physical travel that at its best, keeps the edges of the universe from fraying too jaggedly even as I gad about in seemingly random runnings; indeed, the travel metaphor helps keep up a necessary figment of coherence without which I think life would become meaningless and like most folk–I do crave some sense that all of this meandering has a point.

It is the finality of a departure without arrival that blows the lid off the fiction of travel as unending adventure and opportunity for growth. Death with a capital ‘D’ is a full stop. No more sentences one can revise to make life more interesting, bearable, sensible, fun.

But the human mind is irrepressibly optimistic. Maybe its the travel we can’t anticipate that will be the real deal….

5 thoughts on “Death

  1. What a thoughtful piece to read….. and this can be by none other than YOU. This D is something which has filled half of my life….therefore i believe ….i exist…. only with the remaining half. So to say….to complete the circle of life….how can any one miss on this half? But what a beautiful phrase you have used…”irresponsibly optimist” we keep on living.


  2. Yes, I agree with it so much! Every person has a different perspective on how to delay/distract the deaths in life. Makes me wonder what sort of deaths would those people face who choose to stay put. Not just a death of mobility, flux as you say, but also the death of memories. How they slip away, how in it’s midst, no new ones are really formed, and how one struggles to keep hold of them still. How viable will that struggle against that kind of death be? Does it make sense? It’s 2.30am here. I wouldn’t be surprised if it doesn’t :p


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