Four generations, actually. Eleanor will carry the torch. And, you know, having a child makes you contemplate your mortality on a deeper level than, maybe, neurotic little you ever did before. You thought you had seen all aspects of your death anxiety. You hadn't. Now there's a hundred or more new aspects.
When it comes to death, I think I'm a little preoccupied with the moment of "consciousness ejection," as the Tibetans call it. I have this idea that it's a time of heightened mental activity and...I don't know...maybe everything that's unresolved comes out to say "Hi." And that sort of freaks me out, because I haven't resolved anything, ever. I dwell in questions, suppositions, paradoxes, and basically I have Salvador Dali's mind without the talent. So if I'm supposed to enter death with some kind of a "clean slate," well, I'm screwed.
Then again, maybe death is the final reckoning. Maybe that's where resolution really happens. Not exactly a Hallmark moment, but at least you get to go, "Yeah, I did this and I'm proud of it. I did that and there's no reversing it. I have regrets. I did all these other things and am pretty ambivalent about them...Oh well, I'm lying here, dying and these are the final moments of my brain's electrical soft-shoe and presently I shall become food for earthworms. Adios, physical plane of existence! This sucks!" Then total darkness.
I don't know and can't know, of course. Hence the preoccupation, the unresolution with Death itself. Fact is, I haven't made up my mind as to whether or not I ever even want to die. Of course, we all gotta die. Doesn't mean we have to act like we're okay with it. For all its pains-in-the-arse, Life still commands a lot of respect from me. Why would I wanna give up on life, which hasn't once (yet) given up on me?
Basically, we here in the West - and possibly everywhere else - are conflicted about death on a cultural level. If you're young and you're ready to die, it's called "suicidal ideation," and it's a mental problem. If you're middle aged and are psychologically ready to die (i.e. can "accept" your mortality), it's a healthy level of psychosocial and existential adjustment. Well, I'm in neither canoe. I just have a feeling that the moment of death is gonna suck for me. I hope it doesn't. I hope it's filled with "Fern Hill" images from my pine scrubland childhood and that I'm surrounded by only the most helpful ethereal beings. I hope that when the final annihilation comes, I can accept it as the price you pay for having taken the ride. The cashing in of various chips. A hearty, tear-struck "Goodbye."
Knowing me, though, I'm gonna cling to life like seaweed clings to the shoreline. I'm gonna say "No! More! I'm owed more. I need more. I just want more!" Unless, of course, I have one of those sudden deaths, where I don't even have time to get the words "Aw, Shiite!" outta my mouth. That'd be okay, I guess...No. No. That's a pretty freaky thought too.
Now as I was young and easy under the apple boughs
About the lilting house and happy as the grass was green,
The night above the dingle starry,
Time let me hail and climb
Golden in the heydays of his eyes,
And honoured among wagons I was prince of the apple towns
And once below a time I lordly had the trees and leaves
Trail with daisies and barley
Down the rivers of the windfall light.
And as I was green and carefree, famous among the barns
About the happy yard and singing as the farm was home,
In the sun that is young once only,
Time let me play and be
Golden in the mercy of his means,
And green and golden I was huntsman and herdsman, the calves
Sang to my horn, the foxes on the hills barked clear and cold,
And the sabbath rang slowly
In the pebbles of the holy streams.
All the sun long it was running, it was lovely, the hay
Fields high as the house, the tunes from the chimneys, it was air
And playing, lovely and watery
And fire green as grass.
And nightly under the simple stars
As I rode to sleep the owls were bearing the farm away,
All the moon long I heard, blessed among stables, the nightjars
Flying with the ricks, and the horses
Flashing into the dark.
And then to awake, and the farm, like a wanderer white
With the dew, come back, the cock on his shoulder: it was all
Shining, it was Adam and maiden,
The sky gathered again
And the sun grew round that very day.
So it must have been after the birth of the simple light
In the first, spinning place, the spellbound horses walking warm
Out of the whinnying green stable
On to the fields of praise.
And honoured among foxes and pheasants by the gay house
Under the new made clouds and happy as the heart was long,
In the sun born over and over,
I ran my heedless ways,
My wishes raced through the house high hay
And nothing I cared, at my sky blue trades, that time allows
In all his tuneful turning so few and such morning songs
Before the children green and golden
Follow him out of grace.
Nothing I cared, in the lamb white days, that time would take me
Up to the swallow thronged loft by the shadow of my hand,
In the moon that is always rising,
Nor that riding to sleep
I should hear him fly with the high fields
And wake to the farm forever fled from the childless land.
Oh as I was young and easy in the mercy of his means,
Time held me green and dying
Though I sang in my chains like the sea.