The older I get -- which, sadly, seems to be happening continuously -- the more I ponder the not-so-cheery question, "What should my last word be?"
Now, usually we hear talk of last words, not word. But since I'm such a wordy guy, in writing at least, I figure I should do something surprising and limit myself to a single Last Word.
(An aside: I enjoyed reading the "ironical sense of words said before a disaster" in the Wikipedia Last words article. These are so great, they almost -- but not quite -- made me want to do the last words thing.)
- "They couldn't hit an elephant at this distance!" General John Sedgwick at the Battle of Spotsylvania Court House immediately before being killed by enemy fire.
- "Let all brave Prussians follow me!" Field Marshal Kurt Christoph Graf von Schwerin at the Battle of Prague, immediately before getting hit in the head by a cannonball.
- "Don't worry about it ... look, the clip is not even in it." Terry Kath of the band Chicago, just before putting a pistol to his temple and pulling the trigger.
I don't know whether my last word would be uttered aloud, so someone else could hear it, or silently inside my head, where it would be known only to me.
Thus I want a word that does a damn fine job of (1) summing up my philosophy of life, so I remain true to myself in my last moment; (2) is positive, so anyone around me gets a feeling that my imminent death is going as well as possible; and (3) resonates pleasingly within my own fading psyche, so I end up on as high a note as possible in my swan song.
I might change my mind, but currently the Last Word Winner is...
Which conveys such extra multiple-word meanings as:
Yes, this is happening. I accept it.
Yes, it is what it is. Dude.
Yes, thanks to the cosmos that made saying "yes" possible.
Yes, I accept the reality of all this, right here, right now.
This isn't the first time I've written about the appeal of YES. Well, more accurately Yes, Yes, Yes.
In 2oo7, I wrote "Beyond religion's No to Yes, Yes, Yes."
One of my enduring memories of the marvelously '60's ish Oregon Country Fair outside of Eugene is a banner strung high between two trees that simply said, "Yes…Yes…Yes." (though the fair does have some dos and don'ts)
When I saw it, I thought…Yes.
There's so much in that one word. Everything, really. What more could we want if we have Yes? It's the negative side of life that is so disenchanting.
Nobody likes to be told "No!" Not children, not anybody. We're Yes seeking creatures who long for affirmation, positivity, acceptance.
And in 2014, I blogged, "'Yes, yes, yes' is an appealing philosophy of life" (based on a column I wrote for our town's alternative paper).
I don’t mean to sound Pollyannaish, excessively optimistic. Life can suck. It can be painful, depressing, disappointing, tragic.
But saying yes to all that is a lot better than denying it. Kudos to the folks in Salem who organized the Stories from the Dark Side series at the Grand Theatre (last Thursday, May and June). Great idea, inviting people to share tales from the darker side of themselves.
Recently I came across one of those wise Twitter epigrams that say so much in 140 characters or less: “Self hate lives in the gap of what you think you should be and what you actually are.”
Yes. This is what you are. This is what I am. Yet also more, because of Yes, and Yes, and Yes… without end.
So even if my last word turns out to be NO! -- there's a Yes behind that also. What is, is yes. Which doesn't leave anything out.