I'll Fly Away or "THAT Is the Question"

00:00 June 25, 2013
By: Phil LaMancusa

Dear Diary, have you reconsidered our demise lately? you know, the Long Walk; the Deep Sleep? That Stairway to Heaven? Are we ready to Kick the Bucket? you know, Cash Out, Throw in the Towel, Buy the Farm? Take that Deep Rest in the Boneyard Bayou? The Big Chill? Are we ready to Meet Our Maker? Take a Stiff Slumber in the Stone Orchard? Address Saint Peter at them Pearly Gates? Knock, knock, knock on Heaven’s Door?

“To die: to sleep/No more; and by a sleep, to say we end/ The Heart-ache, and the thousand Natural shocks that Flesh is heir to? ‘Tis a consummation/Devoutly to be wished,” et cetera, et cetera.

Of course not. We’re young (or at least youngish), in reasonably good health, enjoying life; fi sh are jumpin’ and the cotton is high. There are “them” out there that have faith in a higher power that has promised a cush afterlife if you don’t screw up too bad in this one; no worries, eh? Enough about you, Diary; what about the readers?

You (readers) may be perfectly pragmatic and admit that death and taxes are unavoidable, or you might be like me and wake up some nights in a cold sweat, having dreamt (again) about “lights out, nobody home” (and unpaid taxes). you might not think about it at all; and probably more’s the better.

Personally, I don’t like the thought or the inevitability of death, the big “D”. It’s damned inconvenient, damned impersonal and so damned permanent. I have too damned much to do, see and experience. I’d like to believe that I’ll live a long life, maybe forever. Okay, maybe that last bit is wishful thinking…to cover up my basic fear of dying. There, I’ve said it.

It started when I was young and had dreams of an infi nite emptiness where I could neither move nor make a sound; it went along with dreams of being chased and my bed-wetting: things that eventually passed as I grew older. As a kid, I played the usual “Bang! Bang! you’re dead!” games. I sat mesmerized when my elders would speak of someone who “passed”; told stories of wild “wakes” where the family stood the coffi n in the corner so that they could dance and/or fi ght (I kid you not).

Later on, I saw my fi rst dead body, went to my fi rst funeral, listened to Gurus and Gods who advised me not to be afraid, and talked to the elderly who were. I saw the total lack of fairness at children’s funerals, in wars and natural disasters. I began to take death personally as it took those around me that I knew, could touch one day and not the next. I stared death in the face. The face of death looked back at me and laughed. I felt puny and helpless. I turned to diversions and subversions, inversions and a few conversions; still the thought of that fi nal curtain would haunt me whenever my guard wasn’t up. In a nutshell, it became the soundtrack of my life.

I became obsessed with obituaries, a ghoul for gore, nosy for newspapers with magnets of mayhem, murder and mortality. Cancer at an early age; a sudden aneurysm; a knife from behind; a gun, freak accident, force of nature, senseless brutality, or just growing slowly, painfully and irreversibly…old. Airplane crashes; terrorist plots, strange incurable diseases; some weirdo with an assault rifl e, a bomb, fi re breaking out or boat sinking. A guy walks into a bar… The media capitalizes on my fascination with cover stories, photographs, headlines, and extended broadcasts of serial killings, armed insurgents, tsunamis, earthquakes, massacres, sectarian “confl icts,” riots, bloodbaths and animal cruelty; slaughterhouses; mass shootings; gore, genocide, and that innocuous spinach salad that can check you into the emergency room, never to check out again. Holocausts.

So what about it, Dear Diary? Any hope for Homey? Or, do we sit here at the keyboard at three in the morning with a Lucky Strike and a Pabst Blue Ribbon and muse onward about Hamlet and shuffl ing off “this mortal coil”?

Silly me; Dear Diary doesn’t give a shit. Dear Diary is going to strut and fret his hour on the stage, get thrown into the blogosphere and languish there for eternity, or until they fi nd a way of snuffi ng us out like life’s brief candle. Dear Diary will achieve the immortality of individual expression. Just as Hamlet has.

In reading Hamlet, we do fi nd a kind of immortality that surpasses death itself. you may read Hamlet again and again and in it, the whole family, and I mean the whole frigging family… dies. Read it (hear it, see it) again, and guess what? The whole family dies again! There you have my new theory of “immortality through death”.

So that, Dear Diary, brings up my next question: what if there is life everlasting? What if it’s just like Groundhog Day? After I wrap up this perfumed jitterbug, what if I must/get to do it all over again? Ad infi nitum? It gives a whole new meaning to the theory of karmic payback, doesn’t it?

“To sleep, perchance to Dream; Aye, there’s the rub, For in that sleep of death, what dreams may come…” So, say I’ve been doing this again and again. Is that why some things feel familiar? Is that déjà vu? And if I am doing this again, can I do it better than last time, or next time? Do I have to follow that last script, or do I/should I look to improve? And, what, Dear Diary, if I am doing it again right now—someplace?

Dear Diary: it’s time for bed. “Good night sweet prince: And fl ights of angels sing thee to thy rest!”

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