I stared upward at the motionless ceiling fan. A faint glow filtered in the open bedroom door from the nightlight in the hall and reflected down off the still blades. It was four in the morning, my head was pounding, and there was a dull throb in my ear meaning that almost assuredly my infection was back. Great. To top it all off I was trying to come to grips with the dream I just woke from which involved performer Amanda Palmer, her husband and writer Neil Gaiman, a mysterious collection of architectural ruins in a coast line not far from a train station, and a small mysterious decaying skull.
So let’s go with the previous evening. If I lay the blame there, I can transfer a good amount of it to my friend Andra Watkins. Whenever we get together the discussions take unusual turns, and last night was no different. Her first book, “To Live Forever: An Afterlife Journey of Meriwether Lewis”, is about to be published and so our conversations naturally centered on that. Topics ranged from author interview questions to publishing formats to the effect paper quality has on the reading experience. The most lively discussion though was around the premise of her book in general, shall we say a post-death do-over.
Think about it. Many of us have events in our life we would like to get a second chance at – mistakes we have made, things we have said, actions we should have taken. And while the span of our lives is relatively short for correction, the time after our deaths is seemingly infinite. How many people after seeing the way their life and death play out wouldn’t angle for a moral mulligan? Especially those, such as Meriwether Lewis or Philip Seymour Hoffman, who’s final days played out in unfortunate drama.
The prospect is intriguing to say the least, and I can’t wait to read Andra’s exploration of it. Do we change on recollection? Does death bring a perspective we don’t have in life? And can we, even when we know the costs, change our behavior and do the right or at least better thing? If so, why don’t we make such adjustments while our hearts are still beating?
All questions enough to give one a headache and haunting dreams at 4am. And more than enough to build great anticipation for the arrival of her novel in a few weeks.
Yup Andra, I am blaming it all on you.