Being Dead Wrong
I’m afraid of dying again. As in, once again, I am afraid of dying. I thought I got over all this 25 plus years ago, after doing karmic clearance work with a former boyfriend. All I remember is burying a decorated cigar box in Central Park and burning sage but it worked well enough to get me on to planes, sober, and be like, whatever ….
Since reaching the age at which having cosmetic procedures is expected of you, along with a will, grandchildren, preoccupation with your lower intestines, and hard candies in the bottom of your purse (none of which I have, so I’m not old yet), I’ve been plagued by the thought of not existing anymore as a finality - as opposed to a “Calgon, take me away bath,” with a valium, or two or three. Hey, Led Zeppelin, does anybody remember Calgon? In the event not, here’s a link to a 70’s commercial. And to Led Zeppelin .
As I bore children well into everyone else’s menopausal years, I have 24/7, live-in data to clue me into the “now it’s too late, fuck you, generation,” and I can see now that my parents had it good.
There was a generation gap back then to fill and we regarded people over 30 as providers of food, shelter, transportation, cash, and little else. Any possibility of being understood, or related to authentically, was ruled out - as it led to pain. Evening the score, was the perception that people under 18 were not considered people yet, so we all left each other the hell alone, is my point here.
Our children bother us us, because they bother with us. They expect us to know what sampling is (not hors d’oeuvres at Trader Joe’s) — and if I am not enervated by the relooping and spoken-word, rap cadances and yearn for something with a melody, I am subject to suffering through another music comprehension for old people lesson.
I wish they’d just condemn me and leave it at that. But they really want me to understand the stuff they care about (which is so endearing I can barely stand it) and in this case means stopping everything on a dime, putting ear buds in — which hurt - — and straining to listen to something I’ve been programed to tune out, because my brain spam-system has it marked as background noise.
Although (way) too young to have gone to Woodstock, I consider myself a product of what Timothy Leary coined the “Tune Out, Tune In, Drop Out Generation,” which I took to mean as shorthand for get me outta here.
I grew up in the kind of house where the Dad is mostly not around and the mom hollers everything at the top of her lungs, presumably as directives, but invarably as radar, detecting everyone running out of earshot. I figured my best hope was to hatch a good escape plan which I did; first by climbing trees, then by stealing my father’s Quaaludes (Hey, does anyone remember Quaaludes?), and then as a runaway, literally.
Arthur Miller said that life is like a thumb print on an ice cube. On Facebook, I upload my temporal existence on to a platform that reminds me not to run away (FACE it book), while reading the profiles of people I went to junior high school with, so that now I don’t have to bother with going to reunions or having any direct contact, to see how they turned out.
We troll as voyeurs, anonymously, disconnecting us further from the source. Then we tune in, by putting ourselves “out there” online, not to be confused with on the line, by posting a message in the bottle, or uploading a personal, slice-of-life video. If it goes viral, we can achieve what Andy Warhol foretold as the future in which everyone will be famous for 15 minutes. Or 15 seconds in real-time.
If Facebook had been around when my mother would force me to write thank you letters to my Aunt Esther, for example, I could have simply posted a photo of the birthday card she sent — leaving the gelt (money) tucked inside, out of the picture — and “liked it.”
Maybe this is why I’m scared of death, all over again. I used to worry-up all night about missing stuff, and even during waking hours, I’d often arrive somewhere perched for flight, in the event and probability, that the better party was where I wasn’t.
But now I’m chill into the evening, couch potatoed on a screen, with 575 friends commenting and liking and posting trite, stupid shit, and carefully chosen, candid shots of myself, knowing that all my social networks will carry on after my death. All we are are avatars. Chant with me.
Matter of fact, I haven’t deleted dead people from my social networks, and every so often, I am prompted to invite them to something. Just last week, ancestory.com, reminded me to wish a deceased cousin a happy birthday. So they’re there, same as always, and I’m actually thinking of them even more than when they were alive thanks to the electronic prompts that have taken the place of a mother nagging — I mean, reminding.
So if that isn’t some existential, “I’m gonna fuck you up,” message from the grinning reaper, that life really doesn’t matter, and regardless of whether one is dead or alive, they may be due an electronic greeting — I don’t know what is. If death is just a shift in consciousness — a turning-off of tripping the light fantastic, and the only light in the all-is and nevermore, are illuminations from electro magnitic cloud-based circuitries (or whatever force ignites the algorithms), then perhaps I am loosing my soul.
Which shouldn’t bother me, given that I’ve been trying to sell it like, forever, but if no one wants it now, then it’s really not going to have any worth after I die — unless, like the works of a dead artist, it skyrockets in value. But more likely, I’m holding confederate dollars. I already know the plot that’s stored on iCloud, so the only thing I’ll really be missing is my own funeral, which my friends tell me, I’ll be late for, anyway. Do we go to the usCloud after we die?
If the atheist-leaning demons in my head, lobbying that the laws of randomness call the shots are dead-on right, the revelatory scare is that death will be no different than life, that there will be no rest for the wicked, or the weary — no RIP — and it will never ever, ever stop, because it never really started. And, assuming my head hasn’t exploded and the Hindus are right, that you can’t opt out of reincarnation, and life is just a sampling and we re-loop over and over till we finally get it right — and that there’s nothing to get right — then Nirvana is just dinner with Kurt and there’s a black hole in my escape plan.
To pay it forward, even if I’ve got it backward, I plan on writing a book about the perpetual struggles of living in the moment when you’re all about getting out of there. For instance, I created and own the domain name ZenPanic.com, which is for sale along with my soul. As an homage to Ram Dass’s primer, “Be Here Now,” my bestseller will be titled, “Be Back Soon.” And I will.