"According to most studies, people's number one fear is public speaking. Number two is death. Death is number two! Does that sound right? This means to the average person, if you go to a funeral, you're better off in the casket than doing the eulogy."
Who comes up with these things?
All Soul's Day. Dia de los muertos. Turning back the clocks and utter darkness in late afternoon. Too much all at once!
Still, remembering the dead and celebrating death on the edge of darkness can help us appreciate life and light with a bit more gusto and humor.
One day, long ago, my Uncle Jim took my mother and me out to the Overbrook Country Club for lunch. My mother must have mentioned seeing a friend of the family's death notice because my uncle said, "Ah, yes. The Irish Sports Page."
The what? It took me a minute and when I realized that he was talking about the obituaries, I laughed out loud. But then I thought, "My god! I read those pages all the time!" (Not so much to see who died but to learn the most interesting things about people's lives.)
I can't find the origin of the term (probably some pub over a pint) but I'm sure it's been in use for as long as there've been sports pages. And Irish people reading them.
When I lived in places with great cemeteries, I used to love walking through them. I even wrote a song about doing just that at Mount Auburn Cemetery in Cambridge. It's one of my favorites (cemeteries and songs).
Contemplating death is good. It's a reminder of impermanence and that, while death is certain, the time of death is not.
When I find myself wallowing or stuck in some wheel of thought about what is past or what may come to be (or not), if I can step outside that loop, I have a little talk with myself. Okay now, is this the state you'd choose if you were to die tomorrow? Then I pull myself together, look at something pretty, make a drawing or something and come back to the present.
Death's gonna come. May as well live now!
"At my age, I'm often asked if I'm frightened of death and my reply is always, I can't remember being frightened of birth."