Monday, June 11, 2012

[1379] on death and catcopters

The statement I'm about to make is going to sound super depressing, but hang in there a sec. It gets better.

Sometimes when I'm really super happy and everything in my life is going off without a hitch, I think to myself, "Someday something terribly sad is going to happen to you, and you won't feel like this anymore." This isn't a constant thought or anything. I'm not in a perpetual state of dread every time I'm in a period of good fortune. That really wouldn't be good fortune at all.

It's more of a perspective thing. I'm reminding myself of life's ebbs and flows. If I remind myself when I'm dancing on the ceiling that sometimes I'm going to want to hit myself over the head with a mallet, it's a lot easier when I want to hit myself over the head with a mallet to realize that someday I will again be dancing on the ceiling. Further, when I hit those lows, I tend to be able to snap myself out of them fairly quickly. If I'm going to be happy someday, why not now, right?

Now, let me make the disclaimer that this clearly is not a strategy that's going to work for someone with some form of clinical depression or disorder or imbalance. That's all much more complicated. My anxiety levels may be off the charts, but when it comes to being sad, I usually have some control over it. This is not the case for everyone. What I'm talking about is being sad for a reason, not 'cause some chemical in your body is forcing you to be. Besides, I'm not really giving advice here. This is about me. #selfcentered

This brings me to death...and also to the catcopter.

A story was going around last week about an artist who turned his dead cat into a helicopter. I thought it was awesome. I've often joked about what I'll do with my beloved Gaucho when he kicks the bucket. One such idea involves getting him taxidermied into his trademark little sleeping ball and keeping him on the back of the couch as if nothing had happened at all. Guests would go to give him a pat and suddenly realize he had long since gone the way of the buffalo. Laughter would ensue.

As catcopter proved, though, not everyone finds such a glib approach to death--particularly animal death--entertaining. Some found it just plain sick, twisted, disgusting, cruel, disrespectful. While at first I was completely flabbergasted as to how anyone could look at what I saw as a fantastic tribute to a loved-but-lost feline friend as anything other than just that, it dawned on me that my whole approach to death might be a bit unorthodox. The feelings of disgust others were experiencing were completely normal. It's my own unwillingness to take death seriously that's weird.

One of the oft-used arguments against coptercat went something like, "Would you do this if a member of your family died?" Or even, "Would you want this done to you if you were to die?" And I could honestly say to the first, "Yes, if they'd let me," and to the second, "Yes, if I could convince them to." I have said on many occasions that I want something funny written on my epitaph. I don't want to be a beloved wife or daughter or mother or author or whatever. That makes people sad. There's enough sadness in the graveyard. I want people--mourning the losses of their own beloved wives, daughters, mothers, and so on--to stroll along the rows of graves, skimming others' sad tales of woe, and then do a double-take at mine. Taking it in more closely, I want them to laugh. I want them to laugh until the tears streaming down their faces are happy ones. I want them to laugh until they realize that lives end but life goes on, and it's okay to be bummed, but it's cool to be happy, too. There's no rule that death has to be a horrible, heart wrenching affair.

You're going to be happy again someday, so why not now, right?

When my dad died, people were a little freaked out by my positivity. I think everyone assumed I was in denial or was just covering up my emotions. And maybe the latter was true a little bit, but really, I was fine. Of course I was sad. My dad was a BAMF. Think I don't get a little angry every time I see an awesome father's day card or a thing my dad would love and realize, to quote Marv from Home Alone, Santy don't visit the funeral homes? It's a real buzzkill. I shed my tear, and I move on. 'Cause for me, I'd just rather be happy. And if I'm going to be later, I might as well speed up the process. If I'm in the mood to be sad, I'll pop in Swing Kids and eat a tub of cookie dough while sobbing, "SWING HEIL, PETER!!" to no one in particular. When it comes to real life, I just feel like dwelling is a waste of time.

So if I die young, don't do any of that burying me in satin and laying me down on a bed of roses nonsense. At least have the decency to use me for the carpool lane or something.


britheblogger said...

I don't think I could muster up the courage to use you in the carpool lane, but I can definitely put bright happy flowers by your grave and funny cards to make other graveyard patrons laugh :)

CatCopter said...

Nice post! Please follow me on Twitter at @CatCopter to learn more about the secret life of a dead flying feline. And tell all your friends.

Ann-Caryn said...

I just love you. Swing Heil!

Anonymous said...

I couldn't agree more. Less than a year ago my husband passed away from cancer. He was 37 and we had been married just two years. Of all the challenges I've faced in rebuilding my life without him the most surprising one is dealing with well intentioned friends and family members who seem to want me to mourn him all the time. As every anniversary or milestone date passes they expect me to fall apart. Of course I mourn and I'm sad but it is private. I prefer to move forward with my life and find new happiness and it amazes me how much that upsets some people.

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