Life, Death and Keeping it in Perspective

What is really on my mind.

I will say often it is tough to put a finger on it, but here is where I will start. I want to say up front, this post is disturbing. It is totally real but disturbing. It is not intended to be sensational but I feel I have to share it. I typically have a caveat- here it is. If you are not ready for a dose of reality, run like mad now.

We try to start the day as often as possible with a walk, it seems to help arthritis especially in dogs and people. One of them does not do the best when encountering anything which moves. We make the walks on less traveled roads for obvious reasons. One route which seems to be the most popular goes down through a small industrial area with railroad tracks and other low traffic buildings.


One of these buildings along the path is a crematory. No one would know this from driving by. I cannot say I have ever seen a vehicle in the parking lot other than one which belonged to a funeral operation. There is no sign, no sticker on the window. Nothing. The only reason I know it is there is from a past experience I wish I never had.

So we were walking up that dead end road it is on the other day and I kept smelling a real carbon odor almost like coal burning. If I had to put a label on it, that is as close as I can get. The smell of burning coal, but not quite. Not cooking charcoal, real coal. We were quite a ways from the building when I noticed the odor. My mind stopped. My body stopped. Everything stopped and this big rush came over me. I couldn't even talk for a couple minutes. There were many things which contributed to the emotional avalanche. It was an intense experience.

Is that what a body being cremated smells like? We turned around short of the dead end and made our way back by the building. A bit of not really smoke was coming out of both of the stacks. I was right. That was exactly what we were smelling. There was something deeply disturbing and still somehow enlightening about it all. I think now, man that is about the final smell isn't it?


The disturbing part? Can I put a finger on it? Maybe not but I may have been smelling all that was left of someone. After this is done they end up with a small box of ashes for whoever to do whatever they choose with. I couldn't help but think about the finality of the situation. The hopes, dreams, aspirations and about any other word you could put in here. It all pretty well meets with some finality in an industrial park in a nondescript building with an empty parking lot.

What is inspirational about this? There has to be something. One part I can see is the whole, "your problems don't amount to a hill of beans" paradox. I cannot help but think somewhere is a grieving family who would trade their situation for what many of us consider "problems". Just yesterday I was listening to a mother making a plea for a child with some type of inoperable brain cancer. That is a real problem. It makes me sick.

The family of the firefighter who was intentionally run down and killed with a car last week. That is a real problem. That is horrific. Where do these people come from and how do we get rid of them? Thousands of refugees fleeing their homes in an effort to keep from getting killed, leaving everything they have ever known to increase the prospects of life. That is a real problem. That is horrific.

What is inspiring about any of this? It almost sounds like a depressing rant. It does not need to be. Things may be going great right now, or they may not. Keeping things in perspective, that well could be inspiring. So what then is the enlightening part? Life. Enjoying life. How about getting out there and doing something good? To borrow an Alanis line, "How about getting naked and dancing in your living room?" How about caring for someone? How about doing something randomly nice, for no reason?

How about enjoying life as much as possible before it is time for me to end up at the nondescript building with the empty parking lot on the dead end road.

4 comments :

louisesor said...

Well put. Death can come soon or late. The moment we die, we are just as gone as our ashes will be ten thousand years from now. Death is impressive. Death is personal. We all experience it. So get out every day and do something that makes you happy.

James Lough said...

This is a nice, honest, simple piece of writing that goes as deep as it goes. Thank you.

Gordon A. Wilson said...

I appreciate you taking the time to read and comment. Sorry for the delay but my gratitude is genuine.

Will Singourd said...

Yes. I once knew a Doctor who was not religious at all. He attended many people at the moment of death. When they passed it "felt palpable". For this reason he told me of his honest doubts. He was becoming an unfaithful atheist. Just an interesting anecdote.
Doesn't compare with yours here. You experienced a clenching fear. Despair.

But you turned it around a bit into something positive. That's difficult.

Help yourself to be happy and you make one person happy. Help someone else to be happy, even for a day, an hour, a moment, and you make two people happy.

A strange math.