Adventures : Zeph Tales (14)

Continued from

Writing An Obituary

889323_island_cemeteryZeph always reminds himself of this whenever he flips to the obituary pages of the newspapers – Age is just a number. It is merely an indication of how many years you have been alive so far in this life; it doesn’t tell you how much or little time you have left. People die aborted, as stillborns, as infants, as teens, as young adults, as middle-agers, and at ripe old ages. People die all the time; any time. People not unlike us, not unlike Zeph. Ahhh… more grave than the transience of life is its unpredictability. You know you are getting old when you start looking in the papers daily for small square pictures of familiar faces with verses beneath. It’s funny how you can see a thousand familiar faces, some of which can even look like yours, as old as you. But it won’t be you. Someone else is likely to insert your picture for you someday, and familiar faces will be gazing at it, surprised as they might be. It is weird how we sometimes plan our lives in great detail. We will get a car by __, get a house by __, get married by __, get promoted by __, get a first child by __, retire by __ ….. Some folks think they are on standby for all the major stations of life, that they have got everything covered. They assume that is successful planning for life. However, they might have forgotten about successful planning for death, which is a crucial phase of life too. As the Zen saying goes, ‘To prepare for life, prepare to die. To prepare for death, prepare to live.’

So what if you had planned for 40 to 50 years down the road? Is it realistic enough? Realistic is the fact that you MIGHT die in a car crash tomorrow. This is not a curse or being pessimistic. Look at that line again – ‘Realistic is the fact that you MIGHT die in a car crash tomorrow (or today!)’ How can anyone deny this is true? Will you be able to forgo your ‘success’ plan for life should you be lying in a bloody mess on the freeway tomorrow, with life ebbing away? Learning to let go should be part of the masterplan! Live happy, but die happy too!

Youth is a time for dreaming? There is a picture of a young girl smiling gaily in the papers today. She looked like an ex-schoolmate. But he wasn’t sure if it was her. He never knew her name. And he wasn’t sure he would rather know it was her or not. He felt a spine-tingling chill, which felt more awakening than scary. Someone of the same generation. Zeph! Be wise! Realise that you have so many dreams – too many in fact. What do you really want? Life is short. You are so fickle! Do you want to fulfill your greatest dreams, or do you just want to be fickle, dreaming on and on, yet fulfilling none in particular? Out of thoughtful amusement, he drafted his obituary verses on the margins of the paper…

He came,
he dreamt,
and fulfilled his dreams,
and helped others fulfill theirs.

He came,
and left the world a more enlightened place,
kinder and wiser.
He came,
and left himself more enlightened,
kinder and wiser.

That he said,
was the measure of his worth.
No dreams, with no enlightenment, is no life!
He would rather be dead!

I would want no qualms having this put up as my real obituary verses. Yes. I’ll work towards having no qualms. It’s not a matter of ego. It is simply a matter of being answerable to myself, and this world. My personal obligation imposed on myself by myself. Zeph tore out the obituary of the girl he never knew, and his self-penned obituary. He brought the two pieces to his room, and stuck them side by side on the wall by his study table. They were with other pieces of bright yellow ‘post-its’. Memo memorials… reminders in black and white, of life and death – a matter black and white?

Related Article:

How to Retire Comfortably Now

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