#66: Don’t Die. Or Even Consider The Possibility of Dying.

During the three or four hours I spent last night at the emergency room (Don’t ask: You know I am forbidden by the Rules of Not Acting Old to talk about my health), I read a really great passage in a novel called In The Woods by Tana French that goes like this:

“We think about death so little, these days, except to flail hysterically at it with trendy forms of exercise and high-fiber cereals and nicotine patches……Now death is uncool, old-fashioned.”

Death is uncool: I love it! It’s absolutely true. Death is so not done these days that, unless your brain stem has been removed and you’re older than, say, 105, you can never ever admit that dying might lie somewhere in your future.

Death is more uncool than flabby jowls, more uncool than cellulite, more uncool even than wearing your pants belted just under your manboobs. Death is more uncool than driving a Lincoln, more uncool than talking about your gallbladder operation, more uncool than smoking cigars around the baby.

What’s more, dying is a deliberately uncool act, like walking into J.C. Penney and buying yourself a pair of gray plastic oxfords and wearing them with knee-high hose and a pair of culottes. I mean, how dare you be so clueless? Haven’t you heard of pilates? Super low calorie diets and red wine? Energy field healing? Seat belts? Dying: There’s no damn excuse!

If you want not to act old, you’ve got to behave as the young do — as if you’re going to live forever. But unlike the young, who can skip dinner and slam back six martinis and dance till five and then go to work at eight, you’ve got to drink nothing stronger than vitamin water and get at least seven hours sleep to feel as if you’re not going to drop dead right on the spot. But even a life that’s no longer worth living is better than death, the ultimate uncool.

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3 Comments

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3 responses to “#66: Don’t Die. Or Even Consider The Possibility of Dying.

  1. David

    My mother is in a skilled nursing unit at her retirement community. We’ve noticed that since she had to move out of her independent apartment, her friends don’t come to visit anymore – skilled nursing is the place to go to spend your last weeks or months (or, if you’re really unlucky, years), and they’re obviously afraid that the death that lingers there might be catching, VERY uncool. More people need to be Buddhists or members of those Catholic orders that keep skulls on the dinner table so that death is always in view. – David (P.S. Your site popped up in a Google search because of the “really great passage” you quote from a book by my daughter, Tana French. More really great passages in her second book, “The Likeness,” out this week!)

  2. Lex

    I agree with David. Death should be something we keep in view, not necessarily in a nightly news sense, but in a contemplative and acknowledged sense.

  3. You are so right – we hide away the whole prospect of death and it’s no longer viewed as a natural part of the cycle of life.

    I have to admit I’m one of those people who keeps thinking if I just make sure to get all my checkups regularly and nip everything in the bud that does pop up, that surely I will never actually die!

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