This one’s for Julie. When I solicited ideas for my posts about a week ago, she gave me some really good ones, for which she has seen zero return. I may just get around to all of her ideas, but at my own speed. Here’s the first.
Julie wrote: If you could know when, where and how you die would you want to know? Explanation required. Bonus points for leaving the theoretical ethics debate to explore the most logical ways (given your lifestyle and habits) for you to bite the big one and walk us through those scenarios as well.
I won’t have any problem leaving the theoretical ethics debate because I don’t much give a shit about theoretical ethics. How could anyone?
The answer is no, I would not want to know when, where or how. That would just interfere with the life I have left. Simple enough, right?
I can tell you where I don’t want to die: in a hospital. That’s the last place I’d want to be the last place I’ll ever be. Unless I’m unconscious, and then I don’t really care. If I’m able to draw enough breath at the end to communicate my dying wish, though, it would be this: take me somewhere warm and comfortable and familiar and away from all those tubes and machines and plastic, sterilized smells.
If I had my pick of where and how, I’d like to go out like one of those old dogs who senses that the end is near and goes off somewhere to die alone. I guess as good a spot as any would be somewhere in the backcountry of Grand Teton National Park, a place very dear to me. Maybe that spot above the south fork of Moran Canyon, miles off-trail, where the sunset blazes over Idaho and lights up the western sides of the central Teton peaks with alpenglow. Or, more fittingly, out on the end of the shelf in Death Canyon, the greenest place I’ve ever seen, on a warm July evening. Or possibly somewhere else entirely, like the top of some tower or cliff in southern Utah, sitting back against a sun-warmed slab, watching the sun go down through the clear desert sky over the Canyonlands. Always with the sun setting. It’s more poetic that way.
Wherever it may be, I’d want to inconvenience no one by my passing. That’s why I’d more than welcome the opportunity to die peacefully and alone far from the reach of any funeral director. After the last light has faded and I slip into the metaphorical darkness, the animals would come, lured by the scent of an easy meal. Rather than slowly rot in an exorbitantly priced casket buried in some manicured cemetery, or be wastefully incinerated into one more puff of air pollution, I’d be glad to give sustenance to a venue of buzzards (that’s really the term), or a hungry coyote. It wouldn’t take long before my body became one with a whole host of living creatures, in a way perpetuating my own life. The ultimate act of recycling. Before long, the only sign of my ever having existed would be a few bleached bones scattered about. Well, that and my enormous, inspiring and everlasting legacy.
Of course, in the event that my despondence overwhelms me and I decide to take matters into my own hands (literally, as you’ll see), I could always choose the method described with much flair by one of my political science professors over the course of about twenty minutes upon the conclusion of his five-minute bullshit final exam. I don’t know if this was his creation or if he heard it somewhere else, but here it is. You will need the following: a 50-foot tall building with a popular breakfast joint on the ground floor, 40 feet of rope, 35 feet of piano wire, some super glue and a macabre sense of whimsy. During the breakfast rush, go to the top of the building and tie off the rope and the wire to something sturdy. The other end of the rope goes securely around your ankles, the wire in a noose around your neck. Apply the super glue liberally to your palms and immediately place both hands firmly on your head. When you take your final leap, make sure you’re laughing; it’s details like this that’ll make the whole thing really click. All of those folks enjoying their lox and bagels and morning java will never forget the big happy smile plastered across your detached head as it bobs around in your hands at the end of that rope right outside the restaurant window. And there will be much blood.
I apologize to any readers who may have lost a loved one in this horrible, despicable fashion.