WILD WINDOWS EXTRA
As we become increasingly aware of how important our nurses, doctors, supermarket staff, post men and women, delivery drivers, etc etc, are, we might actually have reached a point where we at last recognise that when we obtain some semblance of normality, we might need to readjust the way we value each other. We can make the pandemic a tiresome interruption to our normal lives, or we can use it as a period of reassessment and readjustment. We all know we need this, and we all know that our planet needs it.
Many years ago, I published a small book called Wild Windows 1 which contained thirty short essays. Wild Windows 2 never quite got to the publication stage, but who knows, it might eventually. The first essay in Wild Windows 2 would have been '31 THE ART OF DYING 1’. It speaks to that readjustment and reassessment that is so necessary.
THE ART OF DYING 1
SOMETIMES SIZE IS EVERYTHING
We all know what it’s like. One minute we’re lying on our death bed with our family gathered around us, and the next minute there we are looking down at our body – feeling extremely well if truth be told – and it slowly dawns on us that we’ve passed over.
Well, perhaps we don’t all know what it’s like. Of course, I believe we have done it many times. I believe that dying, if we could only remember our previous incarnations, would seem as natural and ordinary to us as falling asleep, and then a few hours later waking up.
Actually, this doesn’t have anything to with reincarnation. It just has a lot to do with one of those profound things we all have in common: the fact that we all die. The fact – as I believe it – that after death we are still alive, in a body that is like the one we have now, only we don’t need to buy toilet paper anymore. Now how is that for good news!
So let me tell an allegorical story. But unfortunately, just like all the best allegorical stories, and of course I only ever tell the best, this story contains an important truth and a truth that will be pleasing to hear for some people and not at all pleasing for others.
So there you are – to put it bluntly – dead. You have done with looking down at your dead body and feeling for your loved ones who are sad that you have passed over, and you have wandered around your funeral and been nicely surprised at what people have said about you – I hope – and now you know it is time to move on. And so you enter the park of monuments. WARNING: this park doesn’t really exist. THIS IS AN ALLEGORY. OK?
Anyway, you enter the park of monuments. In fact there are a lot of you recently deceased walking through the gates. Let me describe what you see. The park is large, and it is nicely landscaped, and there is a little office near the gates where you give your name and receive in turn a little map. And across the park, as far as the eye can see, there are thousands and thousands of monuments. Some are small and some are huge. In fact you can see some that rise into the clouds, whilst other are tiny enough to play leapfrog over.
You and the other newly deceased enter the office and you give your names and in return you receive your maps. I am going to spare your blushes, so before we go looking for your monument, let us see what happens to everyone else. Your monument is on the same hill as theirs, so you won’t be going out of your way.
Interesting bunch, aren’t they? We have reached the hill and already we have learnt quite a lot about them. For example, look at that little old woman. So ordinary. She’s looking for her monument and she can’t see it. That’s because she’s looking down. She was a nurse and a mother. She cared for people. Actually she was also a bit of a party animal when she was young, and she certainly knew how to have a good time when her husband walked out on her. But she cared for people in her work and in her life. Goodness me she really does need to look up. Up and up and up. Yes, that enormous monument with her name, and running up it the names of all the people who she loved and cared for and helped and nursed. There are even the names of people she told a good joke to, and she did like her jokes.
Now look over there. See that man trying to find his monument? He was a great politician and businessman. Do you recognise him? So successful. So ruthless and energetic too, and he always got to the top of every greasy pole that was going. What a man! What an achiever! And what a lousy father; and what an indifferent husband. Oh dear, he’s just found his monument. It’s so small, he’s actually trodden on it. Don’t worry. He’ll be alright. Look, the old lady who was a nurse has gone over to him and has put her arm round him. There, she’s even taken a hanky out for his tears.
What a nice ending. Oh, not an ending? Oh alright, so let’s go and look for your monument.