Because a life unexamined is lived without intention.
Monday, April 23, 2012
It's a lazy Sunday evening. Dusk has settled, turning the dampness outside into a sea of diamonds refracting the prism of the streetlights. If I hold my breath I can hear the faint patter of rain on the window glass. I'm waiting for the kettle...listening to the gentle murmur of the radio that eternally plays on in my kitchen. I'm one of those people that rises to coffee and music; take them away and I function awkwardly. I spend hours alone in this room, roasting and basting; with flour on my nose and the scent of fresh basil and lemons lingering on my hands. I absorb the world through the voices that keep me company. As I stand lost in the swirl of my own thoughts, something slices through...a phrase captures me.
Quite a remarkable idea actually. It's a service...of sorts. The tag line of the site, "Bridging Mortality." It promises to pass on critical information should you perish unexpectedly. You create an account and begin the process of writing letters and attaching files. To your boss and co-workers--passwords and messages. For loved ones and family they suggest final wishes, bank account notices, love notes....and unspeakable secrets.
What would I have to say? If I knew I had only tonight, that dawn would bring my death. What letters would I write? To whom? What have I left unsaid? The crushing weight of conviction then....it dimmed the damp light outside. I looked down, tracing the pattern on the edge of my empty mug. More has remained unspoken than should.
The hours of the night left me time to examine this. Why has this compilation, this pocket of unvoiced thoughts and anger and sadness and love....why have I let it accumulate so? As I sifted through memories, I lingered over ones still tender. Life does indeed persist--despite our deepest wishes in the midst of anger, pain or devastation. Even perfect joy doesn't last no matter how I clutch and cling. The ocean of minutiae surges daily to engulf us in waves of living. We breath, we eat, we lust, we fight, we love...
And we leave so much unspoken.
This site, you set your "check-in" times--daily, weekly, once a year. If you miss one they will attempt to contact you. After a while, your "death switch" is triggered and the letters sent. Watching the light of the new day creep through the trees...I wonder how people decide to wait, to hold onto these things that are critical enough that they must endure past their final breath. I wish I could read some. What naked honesty must lie in the digital memory of that site. What insight into the soul of regret and repression. What could be so vital and yet simultaneously trivial that you can live with it unknown...but you cannot die that way.
The house is chilly. The sounds of early morning surround me...groggy children, the distant thud of a closing drawer, the dog wants out. I brush my teeth. Pushing the sleeves of my robe up, I wash the night from my skin. And I stand there. My reflection with no make-up, no gloss...no pretense. My hair tangled from slipping into bed with it damp, my faded freckles visible. Not as the world sees me, but how I truly am. I'm appalled that I have an unspoken file. I believe so strongly in honesty with love and truth with integrity....and I have been mute.
The gurgle of brewing coffee draws me downstairs, ruffling my eldest's hair as I pass. I will tell him that the point of the lecture--of every lecture--is just that I love him. I will write my best friend and confess how much I miss her. My mother, that I want to be closer. I will whisper into my husband's ear that petty arguments are never worth missing a single night of the bliss I find in his arms. Cherish my neighbors, appreciate more...confront.