The truth is we write it every day. Not the one that appears in the newspaper, but the real one. The one we write with our words and with our gestures, with every step we take to every place we go, the one we think and breathe and read on the faces of those who love
us. And yes, on the faces of those who don't.
The obituary that changes every day.
The one we write every time we say yes, and perhaps even more clearly with our stubborn refusals. The one that is wide enough and long enough to encompass what we see--and also what we turn our faces from. The one that records all that we know and also takes note of what we never allow ourselves to imagine.
No newspaper piece has ever captured the truth of a life. That truth is not found in who we married, where we were born, or where and how we did our work, or who stood at the funeral and mourned us. At least not completely.
Still, I continue to read newspaper obituaries. In today's New York Times, there was an obituary of a man named J.J. Servan-Schreiber. The headline called him a "French man of ideas." If one must be forced to wear a title in death, I rather like that one.
The obituary spoke of Servan-Schreiber's "many careers in many countries: Writer in France, teacher in the U.S., hotelier in Brazil. He started a controversial magazine, wrote a book on the torture he saw in Algeria; won and lost elective offices..."
But I especially liked President Jacques Chirac summation:
"One life wasn't enough to contain his energy, crativity and enthusiasm so he forged multiple destinies."
So here is your existential question of the week. If you were only allowed a one line obituary, what would you want it to say?
Wednesday, November 08, 2006
WRITING YOUR OWN OBITUARY