Friday, May 22

It's All Okay.



I have an obituary hanging in my office cubicle.

I have been displaying this obituary for over four years, ever since I found it in the back of a local heavy metal zine. I do not know the man mentioned in the obituary personally; I have never met him and have no idea who his family or friends happened to be. The obituary is as follows:

Shawn K. – Died October 24 in San Bernadino, CA.

The drummer of the metal band Prolific was hit by an airborne car battery that had been ejected from a single-car accident on the other side of the freeway.

I remember exactly where I was when I first discovered this obituary. I was eating a veggie panini at Einstein Bros. Bagels during my lunch break, and upon reading it, dropped the sandwich from my hand. For the next five minutes, I stared into space and thought about the unfathomable freak accident that took this man’s life. I thought about how it was possible that such an accident even happened. Was he behind the wheel of a car? Just walking down the street? How brutal was the single-car accident on the other side of the freeway to even launch a battery that far? It was and still is one of craziest and most bizarre deaths I’ve ever heard about.

Go back and read it again.

Whenever I read about things like this (and we all read about them every day), I instantly think about two things. One, who still believes in Fate? Who honestly thinks that it was this poor guy’s destiny to be sent into Heaven this way? Who honestly thinks that it be God’s will that children die of Leukemia, or waste away in the basement of a neglectful parent? These events always remind me that Life is random, and there is no God that decides how you will die. Period; end of argument. If you want to believe in a God that hurls car batteries at percussionists, you go for it. I, on the other hand, am steering clear (mind the pun).

And before you get all over me for no good reason, I'm not saying that God doesn't exist, I'm saying that Fate doesn't exist.

Secondly, and this is the most important part, I always try to take away something positive from the scattershot nature of Life (after all, that could have been me eating that car battery, and there’s always tomorrow for another crack at it). Being an Agnostic doesn’t mean that it’s all gloom and Nihilism. There’s a wealth of positivity in knowing that you’re completely in charge of your destiny, and that it can just as soon be taken away from you for no good reason. It drops the chains of guilt. Makes you focus more on the positives and the present. Makes you respect and appreciate the moments, and not waste your time worrying about being judged later.

For the sake of full disclosure, I will admit that the darkest recesses of my heart also find this story to be slightly humorous, too. I mean, how could you not? However, I find it humorous in a head-shaking, ‘That’s Life’ sort of way. Everything you work for, everything you plan for and everything you strive for can be taken away from you in ways that you could never possibly imagine. You can’t become an agoraphobic, either; this danger of a Random World needs to be embraced. It needs to be looked at with humor, otherwise most of us would never leave our homes again.

So every morning, I sit down in my office chair, take a deep sip of coffee, look up at Shawn’s obituary, and remind myself that it is completely unnecessary to stress out over insignificant business. We are fragile. We are weak. Most of us lose the plot every single day. But it’s okay. It’s totally okay.

It’s all okay.

Comments:
This begs the question: has Prolific ever been a part of CDP mix-tape exchange?
 
Haha, no; not to the best of my knowledge. I think they were a small-time local band; I couldn't really seem to find anything major about them when I looked them up.
 
You have to play the game of life. You can't win it, but you can enjoy the game as long as possible. So rock out, man. Rock and roll - hootchie koo!
 
Lawdy mama, light my fuse.
 
To the best of my knowledge, being an Agnostic means being woefully ignorant of tradition and lore. It means devaluing things that bring comfort to others, and reveling in the idea that "there is nothing else." It is as brash and blind as people who follow any one religion to the point of extremism. I refuse to label myself agnostic, because it is a limitation on the ability to grow and learn...it is the theological equivalent of throwing your hands up in the air and saying "Well, I'm done here. We can't know the truth, so why seek it?"
 
You know I'm not Agnostic, honey; I worship YOU!

Actually, and I'm going to pat our collective backs here, this is a core belief that would probably cause a lot of turmoil in a marriage. However, me and the Missus respect our differing beliefs, even when it appears like the Missus is woefully and superficially disrespecting mine in the comments section of my award-winning blog.

We talk about it a lot; her willingness and passion to study religion is commendable, just as much as my decision to erase it from my day-to-day life as much as possible. Where she thinks that Religion is an interesting, evolutionary step that's necessary to understand, I feel it's more or less held everyone back for about a bazillion years. I love that we don't see eye-to-eye on religion, because two Atheists in a household would be one nightmare of a bummer, and two religious scholars would be just as annoying.

I seek truth every day. I found the truth in Shawn's obituary. I found the truth in the Ziploc bag of chocolate chip cookies. I found the truth in the lawnmower that almost ran me over during my morning walk. I saw these things with my own two eyes, they made sense to me and made me a smarter, happier and more logical person. That's what works for me.

Furthermore, the point of the essay was about as optimistic of a point as I've ever made on here, so it's my wish that readers focus more on the message than the semantics therein.
 
I enjoyed this essay quite a bit, and I did think there was a surprisingly upbeat message underlying it. Plus, speaking as a secular-leaning quasi-Yid married to a self-confirmed atheist, I give you guys credit for working through the issue of differing beliefs in your marriage. I tell people all the time that my and my husband's brands of faith are very different, but we have similar values and personal ethics, so we consider actual religion to be a deeply personal matter and pretty much leave it at that. That difference, as well as having slightly different political leanings, has caused some spirited and discussions, though, especially when it provides an opportunity to not talk about the kid/the bills/the job for the millionth time. Of course, we find humor in the absurd, so that helps too. We laugh at life (and each other)*a lot*.
 
"...two religious scholars would be just as annoying."

In general, I'd agree, but I have to give props to me dad and his wife, both of whom are ministers, and both of whom have done considerable study of religion in general (step-mom is getting PhD in divinity at the moment). And I can tell you, I've had some absolutely fascinating, and at times hilarious, discussions with them about it all.

I'm of a similar mind to Hathery in having a deep desire to study all things religion, culture, tradition and spirituality, but I would disagree with her take on what it is to be agnostic. I think claiming absolute anything--from atheism to Christianity, etc.--is a bit too cocksure for my taste. Whereas agnosticism at least acknowledges that there are certain things the human mind can never know. I don't think it means throwing up your hands and refusing to learn anything new.

But yeah, dig the essay. I like that people think about these things, and find their own individual paths toward enlightenment, as it were. You know the old saying - if it don't hurt no one, go for it.
 
MAUS/EMILY - I have the smartest, most open-minded and interesting readers on Earth. Have I mentioned enough how grateful I am that the CDP has attracted the best of the best?
 
I learned to embrace my atheism long ago, but I still like to study other religions. It's not so much a quest for truth, like I'm hoping to find the one that actually works for me, as it is research on humanity. I think studying different faiths really makes you think about humanity, about the human brain, about the human spirit and condition, and if I were going to worship anything it'd be the human brain, since its what gave us all these different religions and beliefs to begin with.

Whenever I hear about people dying in crazy ways like this I wonder what that's like for the family. If someone calls to tell you your son has just been killed and, oh, the cause of death was being struck by an airborne car battery, I mean, how do you respond to that? I think I'd have a little difficulty believing it. And how do you tell other people? You're grief-stricken and devastated and confused, and its hard enough to tell people about the death of a loved one, but then you also have to explain a cause of death that you KNOW is going to be party conversation with people going, "Whaaaa? That's F-ed up." I've often hoped that if I die in some crazy way that my family will eventually be able to see and accept the humor in it.
 
BERRY BEAR - Exactly. All of it. Studying Religion is a great window into the psychology of the human mind, and to that extent, it's worth every bit of attention. I also don't mind the fact that most religions give people something to look forward to; a common goal, if you will. Like I've said before, I didn't find what I was looking for with those avenues, but I wouldn't discourage anyone from taking whatever paths they deemed necessary.
 
I think Hathery means to insult atheism, not agnosticism. Agnostics are fence-sitters. Because there is no proof of or against the existence of God, agnostics do not come down on a side. They are open minded about the whole affair.

In general though, belief in God is different from religion. If there is a God, why would He reveal contradictory religions to different people around the world? For me, the existence of multiple religions claiming to stem from the divine word of the Creator of the Universe is one of the most compelling arguments against the existence of God.
 
LOTT - That's a fantastic and compelling argument. You'd expect to see a little bit more religious unity if the divine word was coming from just one being. And yeah, the Missus is mainly talking about Atheism, particularity the fact that some Atheists wear their belief in a far more egocentric and holier-than-thou way than any Christian or student of any other faith. The confusion lies with me, actually, as I tend to lean between Atheism and Agnosticism on a daily basis.
 
Thank you... someone else in this world ponders this kind of stuff...
I find it so hard when someone's answer is 'it wasn't meant to be' or 'things happen for a reason' when something bad has just happened like a break up or loss.
I almost find them excuses and cliches for people not willing to take life by the horns. The best thing you can do is make the most of now and not look back too much, and learn whatever lesson you can...
 
"The best thing you can do is make the most of now and not look back too much, and learn whatever lesson you can..." <----That is perfect :)
 

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