Sunday, November 23, 2008

18) Don't go gently

I've seen this quote in a couple of different forms:

"Life should NOT be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in an attractive and well preserved body, but rather one should aim to skid in sideways, chocolate in one hand, glass of Scotch in the other, your body thoroughly used up, totally worn out and screaming 'Man, what a ride!'"

The other common reading replaces scotch with red wine.

It's bothered me ever since the first time I read it. I mean, I enjoy dark chocolate and red wine (red wine drunk: ain't no better drunk) but what kind of person's life is all about booze and candy? And if your body is used up and worn out, you're not going to be sliding in sideways, you're going to be wheeled in by a nurse's aide who does not get paid enough.

If you're screaming "Man, what a ride!" doesn't that mean you're still excited about life? Such a feeling about life would be more consistent with two burly male nurses hoisting you up by the forearms, your dangling legs wildly kicking ineffectually, your glass of 19 year old single malt spilling all over one nurse's white starched uniform. Right?

It seems that the author of the quote equates taken care of with well-preserved and well-preserved with kept safe and boring. As if getting your teeth cleaned once in a while means you have no sense of adventure. As if lifting weights means you have no joie de vivre.

When I die, I don't want to be wrung out. I don't want my mind eaten away. I don't want to be almost immobile. I want to be vital. I want to have friends. I want to have family. In short, I want to have unfinished business. Not things I will have regretted never getting around to, but a quilt I was working on, a trip I was saving up for, a vegetable garden to harvest. But, I want to be ready. When I die, I want my last thought to be, "But I was in the middle of- oh well, it's been a good ride and I have few regrets."

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