Tuesday, February 4, 2014

A Winter Death

As I look out the window on this predawn morning in January, I see a lone bicyclist riding up the street. With all the snow and deep freeze of the past few days, I haven't seen many bikes (and it's wonderful that the motorcycles are all in hibernation!). It’s been difficult for everyone to get around. Difficult to walk, difficult to drive. Everything is happening so slowly. I heard on the radio that drivers need to control their “snow rage.’  

A big snowstorm hit Tuesday (Jan. 14, 2013) around 1 pm and the city shut down at two. Then everyone tried to get home. I wonder if this is what death is like, you’re slowly trying to get home. Hung up in certain areas, losing traction. Like the poor guy trying to cross an intersection, as his wheels were spinning, he frantically maneuvered his wheelchair up out of harm’s way. Seeing this, I didn’t feel so bad about the bald front tires on my Saab convertible.
It’s Saturday now and everything is still frozen, with more snow predicted for today. In a geographic area that does not see much of the white stuff, such weather just stops everything. Kind of like how death sometimes happens when you’re busy doing other things. 
“And it's sure been a cold, cold winter
And the wind ain't been blowin' from the south
It's sure been a cold, cold winter
And the light of love is all burned out”

- from the song “Winter” by the Rolling Stones
So maybe I’ll get out and do stuff before death happens. This is where the real permanence lies, the immortality – spend time with your kids or others, live life as best you can. You can try all you want to create something by which you'll be remembered, but in the end, its up to others to decide whether they'll remember you or not. You can commission a magnificent cemetery monument and have it installed on your grave, which people may admire, but the same people can easily forget who you were. Might just do more for your legacy to spend an hour with your child, playing in the snow in a  cemetery. The writer Garrison Keillor says, ...."Nothing you do for a child is ever wasted."

Anne W. Tucker, in the book, George Krause A Retrospective, says of Krause's photography: “Photographing tombstones, Krause particularly notices how attempts to preserve memory are undermined. Time, weather, and vandals have eroded efforts at immortality, and the monuments’ deterioration affirms, rather than denies, corruption below.”

"It sure been a cold, cold winter
My feet been draggin' 'cross the ground
And the fields has all been brown and fallow
And the springtime take a long way around"
- from the song “Winter” by the Rolling Stones

Many of us have been taught that when we die, there is something else, something hopefully better (and warmer - but not too warm!) waiting for us -  a springtime, a rebirth. But if there really isn’t anything else, why not make the most of this life? Go take you child sledding in the snowstorm! Take pictures in the cemetery during that snowstorm! Push yourself to create an experience that others can share, either directly or indirectly. This is how immortality happens.