Woody Allen was recently quoted in an Esquire interview that “…that if you don’t have your health, you have nothing. No matter how great things are going for you, if you have a toothache, if you have a sore throat, if you’re nauseated, or, God forbid, you have something serious thing wrong with you — everything is ruined…”
I just googled ‘Facing Death’ and a PBS Frontline show came up first, second was a Time article Are We Happier Facing Death? and in third place was Facing death (lower case D) from the American Cancer Society. The top three images were first a cartoon drawing of a guy in boxers with arms and fists behind him leaning into the grim reaper, second was a black and white photograph of one hand over another with a women in bed in the background, and third was a woman laughing sitting next to a casket in full color— this one went with the ‘Are We Happier…’ article — which I won’t be reading.
My parents bought me life insurance when I was eleven—something parents did in the sixties I guess. When I read the cause of cause of death section in the policy I asked the salesman ‘Isn’t every death related to an accident?’ He and my mom laughed. There at the kitchen counter I didn’t get the joke and was being, as eleven is, sincere and literal. Now, after crashing through mid-life with what seems like that carriage ride of Scarlett and Rhett’s through burning Atlanta in Gone With the Wind, I still question the linguistics of ‘accidental’ death since by now I’ve witnessed its inevitability.
The reality of having lost family and friends to that kind of forever and the pounding of the world happens each morning as I look at the photograph above the fold of the New York Times on my own kitchen counter. It seems I’ve been welcomed into a slow burning course of mid-life.
Words like arbitrary, random, senseless, and unfair were made to use with this pit-of-the-stomach awareness. A spaghetti-tangled-mess of needing to understand, make sense, organize, bargain, and mediate the nauseating facts that infuse these times that our bodies refuse to let us forget. It’s easy and tempting to get lost, sucked in, or sucked under.
I agree Woody Allen’s sore throat ruins everything. But just for a time it’ll hurt to swallow, sleep won’t happen, nor will full immersion into the doing with momentum that occupies our days. But add a stack of these glitches of the body to the New York Times above-the-fold, then pile on simply still being alive and older than 40 for a full introduction to a ride that skirts in front of and inches away from that hot full-on burning Atlanta.