the lost man chronicles
the daily chronicle
the deaths of our lives (as the world turns)
Photos of the late “Johnny” Carson were ubiquitous yesterday and I could not help but wonder “why?” For apart from the eulogy, what purpose do obituaries serve?
Why do we honor people after they’re dead and why do some of us yearn to likewise be written up in the NY Times?
Do we laud these exceptional souls to remind ourselves how to live or to remember that we too will someday die, for no matter how special someone is—we are all doomed equally, we are ultimately—mere mortals.
And when popular icons like Princess Di(ana) die, why does the world pour out so much grief and heartfelt love, when all around us people are dying everyday?
And why does Sir Elton John’s performance of a hokey song like “Candle in the Wind” at her funeral service evoke so many emotions in many of us?
After all, practically all the tears that fell for her were not from those that actually knew her. For those who avidly followed her life via the tabloids there may have been a dubious sense of unilateral intimacy, but prurient obsession is truly far from meaningful. If anything, it simply means there aren’t enough intriguing things within one’s own life to garner one’s attention as excessively.
Should this be half-true for many of us who grieve ad-hoc whenever a celebrity says goodbye—“Thanks for the memories”— is there some sort of common underlying sentiment that explains this compulsion? Are we bereft because someone who “made it” is gone and no longer will be able to offer us much of the same satisfaction or inspiration made via their extra ordinary contributions or ability to make us laugh, cry or simply sigh another boring day away? And so when they die do a part of us die too? If only because anyone who aspires to be has an uncanny empathy with and hope invested in all of those who have already become? And so if one of us perishes, does a small bit of the universal soul pass away too?
What I do know is that many of us here in NYC feel a little guilty or weird that we felt so much more grief after 9.11 than we have for all the victims of the Tsunami Disaster, if only because it was so much closer to home, which in and of itself says much about the undeniable importance of emotion in our lives (and in our minds) when it comes to dealing with our daily lives.
Maybe that is why we mourn the end of an ideal, the sublimation of the human manifestation of Form, and lament the shortcomings of celebrated avatars who seemingly live perfect lives. Perhaps, that is why so many people seem flabbergasted by the break-up of Ken and Barbie (i.e. Brad Pitt and Jennifer Anniston).
I like to think (really, I do) that we take interest in the lives of others we do not have “real” relationships with largely for two reasons: either, we seek wisdom from those more experienced than ourselves, looking for lessons that we might apply and be inspired by, so that we might likewise be motivated to distinguish our own lives from the fray.
Or we pry, pick apart and prey upon others’ lives because, quite frankly, our lives are just not as interesting. So we dig in deep for the dirty details, sometimes if only out of spite, out of envy and anger that they might be having a better time than we are (having). Sometimes it is because we are vying for some vacuous and vicarious satisfaction that cannot be ascertained from our own lives because we are too impatient, lazy, ignorant or afraid to make an effort, to make a difference, to be different, or to just create a little intrigue within our own realm of existence.
Who made up all the rules
We follow them like fools
Believe them to be true
Don't care to think them through
And it's ironic too
‘Cause what we tend to do
Is act on what they say
And then it is that way
Who are they?
And where are they?
And how can they possibly
Know all this?
Do you see what I see?
Why do we live like this?
Is it because it's true
That ignorance is bliss?
~ They, Jem
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