What Scares You?


In my last post, (right below this one) I wrote about how I thought we were killing ourselves with all the crap we’ve put in our water, air and soil. So since we’re on that subject, let’s talk about it. Let’s talk about death. I can already hear what you’re thinking. “I’m not reading the rest of this post.” But c’mon, this is something most people don’t want to talk about but they really should. I mean, we’re all going to die, right? And we all know that, so what’s the problem? We should talk about it.

Now I’ll repeat something I just said. We are all going to die. Roll that around in your mind a little while. “We are all going to die.” (Why, why does he have to keep repeating that?) For a lot of people, I would venture to say, most people, death is not a cocktail party conversation topic. Not that I’ve ever went to a cocktail party, but you get my drift. Can you picture it? A bunch of people sitting around in their casual wear, sipping martini’s and Bruce says, “Hey guys, lets talk about death!” I’m pretty sure Bruce would not get invited to the next party. Most of us like being alive. We like believing we’re going to wake up tomorrow and carry out the plans we’ve made. And why not? We make plans. No one thinks, “No sense planning on tomorrow, I might be dead.”

But it scares us. It really does. If you’ve ever seen a survey or something like that, where people are asked what scares them most you’ll find all kinds of answers like spiders or snakes or whatever but almost no one says death scares them the most. This is funny because I can guarantee you that death is profoundly more scary to most people than spiders or snakes. But people don’t even like using the word. And dying is so far removed from most peoples minds that it doesn’t even register when they’re asked, what scares them most. So what is it about death that scares people? The loss of their life, certainly. We like life, for the most part and we don’t want it to go away. But more than that I think it is fear of the unknown.

And the unknown of death is huge. A question many people have wondered at is, is there an afterlife? This has been asked and thought about since the beginning of time. Many religions have tried to answer this question by claiming that there is. In Christianity for instance, the afterlife is talked about a lot. Heaven is explained and described. And all good Christians will go there. It will be beautiful, peaceful, and without fear or want. The streets will be paved in gold (ghastly). And yet, in my own experience, the people who are most afraid of death are the ones I know who are Christian. Think about that for a minute. The people I know who believe in Heaven are the ones who are most scared of death. One woman I know couldn’t talk about death or even listen to a conversation about it. It scared her that much. I asked her if she believed she would go to heaven when she died and she said yes. Then why did it scare her so? She said she didn’t understand that, it just did. All other Christians I know felt like her. Maybe not to her extreme but death scared the hell out of them.

There have been lots of books written about death. A quick Google search produces many titles and I often wonder how well those books have done. Who buys a book about death? I don’t think many of them are given as gifts, do you? “Happy Birthday dear, since you’re going to die someday, I thought you might like this book.” No, I can’t see it. But maybe we should talk about it. Anything you fear is a burden and makes your life a little less enjoyable. Sometimes we are encouraged to think about death. Preparing a will requires thinking about death. Not exactly the death part, but at least preparing for its eventuality. But more than that, we should at least try to get a little more comfortable with it. I mean, it’s going to happen, right?

We’ve all heard the stories about people dying during an operation and having an experience of heaven. I think someone even made a movie about it, certainly a book. The problem I have with these stories is that we know so little about our own brains, how do we know that these heaven trips didn’t happen in the person’s head? We really don’t. I’ve had dreams that were so vivid that when I woke up I questioned if they really happened. The experience left me confused and disoriented, and yet I realized later that it was just a dream. Who knows?

I don’t know how to tell you how to become more comfortable with death. A fear of the unknown is not something I suffer from. Humans are creatures of curiosity. We have a need to know so I would think that people would be a little less afraid of the unknown. But not when it comes to death. People don’t want to know. It’s not something I look forward to but when it happens, I’ll welcome the journey, wherever it leads.

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In Your Dreams, Quietly


For one who wanted to travel,
but could never find a way
we are doing it for you

Seeing for you, experiencing for
you, your memory holds us strong,
binds us together as we go

Giving ourselves to these places,
leaving our hearts behind and leaving
you as a token of our lost love

Your ashes now reside close
to home and in faraway countries

Across the sea and across
the mountains, places you loved
in your dreams, quietly
cherishing all you had never seen

We embrace the world for you
and give you to the nature
you loved so dearly

RSS Feed

I’ve posted an RSS feed to the “A New Life” podcast under my photo on the right side of this page. The podcast is about surviving the death of a loved one and starting your life over. My wife died from cancer a year ago and the podcast is about how I handled the grief process. Check it out.

The Sword Of Freedom

bloody sword
As hands are brushed together, dead bodies fall like dust
and a girl in a dress called freedom whirls and twirls
but makes no sound but the sound of a mothers cry.

With the constitution in one hand and a bible in the other,
flames suddenly leap and turn them to ash and
they blow away on the wind called justice.

Crowds leave the synagogue, cathedral and mosque and file
into the furnace while factories make more furnaces
and governments send more children to burn.

The minds eye is blind and feeling it’s way to find
emptiness and sorrow where love once lived.
Time turns backward to other wars with the same stench.

Liberty’s crack grows wider and the clapper has
disappeared to be replaced by the
sword of freedom, and a mother cries again.

And do we watch with hands folded in laps and on
our knees pray to a god who doesn’t listen? And do
we tell our children that this is righteousness?

As our world disappears in flame and ash do
we wish we had done the right thing? Do we say the
words that will set all to right, or collect our pay?

As the wars rage on and refugees muliply we go to our
jobs with blinders in place and plugs in our ears and
pretend we do not see the girl dancing. And bleeding.

And as she falls to the ground her wounds ooze into
the sand and she reaches out to be picked up but
we turn away, not wanting to get our clothes dirty.

With clean hands and clothes some walk away, but
some stoop to carry away the hurt and their
voices are being heard. Quietly now, but getting louder.

The Sword Of Freedom

As hands are brushed together, dead bodies fall like dust
and a girl in a dress called freedom whirls and twirls
but makes no sound but the sound of a mothers cry.

With the constitution in one hand and a bible in the other,
flames suddenly leap and turn them to ash and they blow
away on the wind called justice, replaced by money.

Crowds leave the synagogue, cathedral and mosque and file
into the furnace while factories make more furnaces
and governments send more children to bleed.

The minds eye is blind and feeling it’s way to find
emptiness and sorrow where love once lived.
Time turns backward to other wars with the same stench.

Liberty’s crack grows wider and the clapper has
disappeared to be replaced with the sword of freedom.
(or was it a dress) and a mother cries again.

And do we watch with hands folded in laps and on
our knees pray to a god who doesn’t listen? And do
we tell our children that this is righteousness?

As our world disappears in flame and ash do
we wish we had done the right thing? Do we say the
words that will set all to right, or collect our pay?

As the wars rage on and bodies pile high we go to our
jobs with blinders in place and plugs in our ears and
pretend we do not see the girl dancing. And bleeding.

And as she falls to the ground her wounds ooze into
the sand and she reaches out to be picked up but
we turn away, not wanting to get our clothes dirty.

With ash covered hands and filthy clothes some walk
away but some stoop to carry away the hurt and their
voices are being heard. Quietly now but getting louder.

Baseball Scores

As Americans sit in front of television sets
watching talking heads tally deaths like baseball
scores, vultures chase doves from olive branches.

And the olive trees burn.

Through the flames the vultures wait. Another dove
is consumed and they descend. Pecking out
it’s eyes they eat greedily. Bellies distended.
Who will be left to enjoy a life made
of blood and fire?

And who but eagles could stop them?
But the eagles have strings tied to their wings.
The puppet master demands obedience, pulls the
strings and the eagles dance. They dance for fear.
Fear that their position of power will be taken.
Fear that their influence and money
will be gone.

They have no shame. Their drug of choice is
dangled in front of them like cheese on a
mousetrap. Dance little eagles, dance.
Where is your jesus? What would he say?
Where is your soul? In the talons
of a vulture.

Eagles deaths are as meaningless as doves
to vultures. It’s all the same. Carrion is carrion.
Death is death, where ever it’s found.
Turn on the TV. The talking heads have more
scores.

A Poem For Gaza

Jagged metal falls from the sky
smoke and fear and death
a mothers love escapes into the air.
Six million Jews died
preparing the way for the
ones who followed to become
the ones who killed them.
They die over and over again.
The graves are empty their
souls are lost. They die
over and over again.
Running in the streets
sirens and screams
and laughter from the hilltop.
Laughter resounding around
the world. And we watch
and do laundry and buy
tickets for the game.
And we pay for their death
so happy we are safe and warm.
And the six million die again.
Voices of the dead call out
call out injustice asking is
this what we suffered for?
Is this what the gas chambers
meant? Is this what we have achieved?
Did we not die for you so
you could live? Was it
all for nothing?
Where is the day when
we all stand together?
Where is the day when laughter
is for everyone?
Jagged metal falls from the sky
and the six million die again.

Time

To whom do I owe the pleasure?
To whom ever I choose.
To whom do I owe the time?
To the time keeper, tic toc tic toc.
The stage seeths with the emotion
of the players and yet, it is empty
waiting, waiting.

The life lived is especially precious,
the life given is gone.
To whom do we owe the pleasure?

Given in great numbers to gods and
goddesses, lives, none spared,
none redeemed. Who can know the truth?
Tic toc tic toc, the timekeeper
taps his watch.
Time to face your personal hell,
time, time.

And to this life, I do sing, glasses
raised all around. Bodies swaying, dancing.
The stage rises and the players fall
one by one leaving their mark soon forgotten.
No one puts flowers on their graves anymore.