I think about death.

I think about death a lot. I think about my death, other peoples’ deaths, the death of the planet and so on. For those who don’t think about their mortality on a daily basis like I do, it might seem morbid or disturbing. But every once in awhile I run across someone else who knows what I’m talking about (Cherie, I’m talking to you) and it’s like, “OMG! You think about death, too?! Squeeee!”

It started early, and other children often gave me weird looks. I loved horror movies and scary stories…particularly things with zombies (that’s right, I was down with zombies way before you). As I got older, I couldn’t get enough of reading about serial killers and the criminally insane (still true).

Then I’m also just fascinated by dead things. In my recent Citizen’s Academy class, I was riveted by the pictures the forensic sketch artist brought of gnarly dead people she had sketched. And that OMSI mummy exhibit? Totally my jam – if only they let me touch the mummies!

But let me clarify, my “bucket list” has nothing to do with death. It’s just stuff I want to do, and by giving it a one year time-table, it’s much more likely to happen. Frankly, I can’t stand the average bucket list. It’s like stuff people never get around to doing. Why would you say, “I want to hang glide off the Andes Mountains,” when you know you’ll never do it? Were you hoping to impress your friends with your enormous aspirations? I don’t get it.

I ran across this site this morning: Before I Die and while I totally understand that it’s an interactive art display, it’s like people totally miss the point. The woman who started it says she wants people to reflect on their lives and share their aspirations, but then if you look at what people wrote, their aspirations are totally vague, unattainable, or just dumb. (That’s right – I’m judging peoples’ aspirations).

For instance:


So ok – that first one is measurable. Either you’re going to live in Morroco, or you’re not. And owning a dog? Totally possible. But then the next one; you want to be “smart”? What’s your criteria of smart? And a rich hacker? Really??

And here’s a couple gems. Do you want to change the world for good, or evil? What does that even mean? And out of 6 billion people, are you really that self-centered that you think you’re the person to change everyone else’s experience? Pleeeeeease. The latter is more playful: I want to have a blast. Ok, sounds fun – but what the hell does that mean?! So not measurable! 

I feel like these people haven’t extensively pondered death like I have and they don’t realize that they could choke sandwich tomorrow and their plans of “Changing the world” will be completely thwarted. Maybe it’s the teacher in me, but your goals must be specific and measurable. You have to ask yourself, “How will you know that you’ve achieved your goal?” Once you make that assessment, THEN you can attempt to scale a mountain, and check it off the list.

I know I’m going to die at some point, and I highly doubt that people will celebrate the fact that I made a quiche or learned how to throw a baseball, but my list is about what I can do. And if I do about 20 things a year, that means in 10 years I will have checked off 200 things! OMG! Did I just blow your mind?! 

So get out there, and ponder some death, people.

3 thoughts on “I think about death.

  1. You just gave me some great ideas for writing activities with my students. I hate the vague. They will take pages of notes that say NOTHING! Maybe starting with something simple and impersonal, silly and light, kids can get “specific and measurable.” But you know before I die….I want to do stuff and things. 😉

    • Haha yeah! I use that as a prompt sometimes! My 6th graders’ writing is intensely mundane, and it’s hard to squeeze things out of them. It’s tricky though because I make a big deal about “specific and measurable” for their goal setting, but then they try to do that in their creative writing and it comes out, “One day in the summer of July 2011 on a day that was 98 degrees, I was mowing my Uncle’s Joe’s rectangular lawn in Medford, Oregon on Cedar Street and my mom and dad and sister and grandma were there and it was 8:25am and my breakfast was Lucky Charms with 2% milk and……..” and then I’m like, “NoooooooooOOOOOO…..”

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