I had an eccentric- if morbid- pastime whilst growing up; fantasizing about dying; and that for as long as I can remember. This was not a simple hit-by-a-car death, but a major drawn out event complete with ambulances, flashing lights, weeping family, and heart broken friends. The object of those fantasies was to convince myself I was that important to all of them; and assuage my battered ego after being blasted to bits by my mum. I would imagine Mother crying; eyes puffed up, hair flying in the wind, scarf wrapped around her waist, totally inconsolable, attempting to throw herself into the ditch, mourning her great loss – ME. Often I would have Di in the background, bawling like a chicken deprived of her entire brood in a sweeping attack by hawks – only a slightly more dignified version of mum.
Lately though, a different twist to this has developed – I find myself pondering what my life will be remembered for. Typically we ‘die after a brief illness’, are ‘ survived by x, y and z’, and will be ‘fondly remembered by a, b, c’ – not exactly exiting the earth in a blaze of glory, but keeping things simple and ticking. In all my typically detailed plans – elaborate exercises in wishful thinking, hopefully scrutinized through the lenses of pragmatism, complete with contingency plans B to D and a fail safe option – I have had grandiose targets. I have found out in the last year though, that life isn’t as defined as I would think it is, and in reality fail safe options only exist in the pristine world of strategy games and to a lesser extent Chem E classes and Process Design software. The precociously talented Carlang says Life’s a gamble and I have the empirical evidence to agree. I am have been forced into rewriting the infamous 5 year plan – and for the first time in nearly 9 years the under-girding assumptions are not 100% in my control.
One thing is clear though – Life doesn’t roll over and offer easy pickings. Life is a no-holds barred, toe to toe contest, and I need to take life by the scruff of the neck; there are some gambles I need to make, major changes that I need to ring and I can already sense the flak flying in my direction, but the key question burning a hole at the back of my mind is the same one Jim Malone (played by Sean Connery) asked of Elliot Ness (played by Kevin Costner) in the film The Untouchables.
What are you prepared to do?