How Will You Live?
Updated: Jun 13, 2019
I'm a big fan of obituaries. Especially those written in the New York Times.
Did anyone else see the documentary Obit, about the world of editorial obituaries via the legendary New York Times obit desk? I cried through the whole thing. I'm also a fan of their recent project Overlooked, which publishes obituaries for accomplished women who were never memorialized in the preeminent paper.
I should have put it on my "About me" page- because, let's face it, I'm obsessed with obits.
Is it morbid? I don't think so. Am I preoccupied with death? Quite the opposite. I love a well-written obituary because it captures the essence of a life. Obits are meditations on historic and pivotal moments in human history. These short biographies reflect our deepest human strengths and capacity for good as well as our greatest evils and weaknesses.
Yesterday I celebrated my birthday. I'm a year away from turning 40. Seems like a biggie. Readers of my blog and website know that it was my father's death at age 59 that led to my big reckoning. That pivotal event urged me to re-redesign my life and work so I'd have no regrets at the end.
My birthday occurs at the beginning of the school year and at the Jewish New Year. It's a time when I'm thinking about time. As Jennifer Egan says in "A Visit from the Goon Squad," time is a goon-- a relentless intimidator who doesn't go away. No one wins against time. But we can play a good game.
Since death is inevitable (sorry, I've said it), the more interesting way for me to spend my mental energy is to explore the question of how I want to live.
What would I like to be remembered for? What do I want to stand for? What wisdom do I want my loved ones to carry on for me?
I invite you to contemplate these questions to uncover some potential clues as to where you may direct some of your energy in the year ahead.
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And if you'd permit me one more indulgence (since I am the most recent birthday girl), please inhale this obituary written by my husband David about my father.