As I hit middle-age, I am driven every waking moment by a mix of dynamics that include urgency, presence, awe, and serenity among others. Life is delicious. Heck, I would submit that even my dreams have become more vivid; I’m dreaming more in technicolor.
I’ll never forget my first dream in color. March of 1977, the night before two friends and I were leaving for spring break in Daytona Beach. Though living only 90 miles away in Milwaukee, I had never been south of Chicago in my life and the excitement and anticipation were manifesting even in my sleep. Just like in the movie, “Wizard of Oz“, that night I was dreaming in black & white about an adventure south and when I arrived at the doorstep of Florida, it appeared as a wall of the most beautiful flowers, in living color.
Dreaming in color may be how my consciousness responded in 1977 to the anticipation of the biggest adventure of my life up to that point and again now in 2014 to the acceptance of the final journey we all take, as it becomes more inevitable to me.
Coincidentally, another anecdote about spring break and death happened last week when I advised my eldest son that should I die right before or during any vacation or some fun trip he was on, I absolutely do not want him to cancel it because of me. I am simply not going anywhere nor will I care. In fact, I advised him to go with the $526.38 creamation advertised on an I-10 billboard just west of downtown Phoenix and then mix my ashes in with some Ph appropriate soil and grow a palm tree on the campus of my beloved Arizona State University.
Also fairly surprising (and relieving) was a comment my mother made when we were talking on the phone yesterday. She’s probably sick of this by now but I was still venting about some family issues. I mentioned that if I ever visit Wisconsin again, I’m only coming to see her, one of my brothers and my closest old friends. She slipped in, “Hey, you don’t even have to come to my funeral”. She said it with all the matter-of-factness that I would’ve. So there’s that.
Face it, funerals are for the living, not the deceased. I don’t believe she’ll care, and I won’t care, and I don’t believe you’ll care either. Because no matter what your belief system, whether grounded in science or myth, we’ll be in the same place – only a tiny space is the difference between now here and nowhere.
And now this…
I’m not scared of dying,
And I don’t really care.
If it’s peace you find in dying,
Well then let the time be near.
If it’s peace you find in dying,
And if dying time is here,
Just bundle up my coffin ‘Cause it’s cold way down there.
I hear that its cold way down there. Yeah, crazy cold way down there.
And when I die, and when I’m gone, There’ll be one child born In this world to carry on, to carry on.
Now troubles are many, they’re as deep as a well.
I can swear there ain’t no heaven but I pray there ain’t no hell.
Swear there ain’t no heaven and I pray there ain’t no hell,
But I’ll never know by living, only my dying will tell.
Yes only my dying will tell.
Yeah, only my dying will tell.
Give me my freedom for as long as I be.
All I ask of living is to have no chains on me.
All I ask of living is to have no chains on me,
And all I ask of dying is to go naturally.
Oh I want to go naturally.
Here I go, Hey Hey! Here comes the devil, Right Behind.
Look out children, Here he comes! Here he comes! Hey…
Don’t want to go by the devil.
Don’t want to go by demon.
Don’t want to go by Satan,
Don’t want to die uneasy.
Just let me go naturally.
and when I die, When I’m dead, dead and gone,
There’ll be one child born in our world to carry on,
To carry on.