Nothing lasts forever

Everything is cool, there’s nothing to worry about, and it ain’t ever gonna be over. Everything passes away. Eventually your molecules and things will do something else, become something else.

There’s apparently a Buddhist practice that involves a prospective monk spending some weeks or months with a decaying corpse, as a reminder of the transience of all forms, presumably including his. I can see how hanging out with a decaying corpse could teach me things I maybe couldn’t learn any other way, and as it happens I am hanging out with a decaying pre-corpse—my body. I’m not dying any faster than necessary. It’s just that my contemplation of anicca in Pali, anissa in Sanskrit, focuses on the body as the most immediate evidence of the impermanence of all things, all forms, so I’m probably paying more attention to my body than I have since I learned to masturbate.

An upside of death is that I won’t have to buy and wear clothes any more—I’m very tired of buying and wearing clothes—and still I can’t bear to part with a 20-year-old T-shirt from a nonprofit magazine I once edited. Stuff ought to be easier to get rid of, it being transient whether I keep it or not, but when I see that old shirt I remember wild-eyed discussions with our art director about the logo, and my son sleeping in a car seat in my office while I read manuscripts on Saturday mornings while my wife slept in, and how the publisher became my favorite geezer. I’m not detached enough to get rid of that shirt, and whoever manages to survive me is just gonna have to lump it. That’s one T-shirt’s story, and I have many, many more. I’d hate to have to go through my stuff after I’m gone. I hope that’s not required. I don’t like leaving a mess for my family to deal with, but that’s the only thing likely to happen.

My mother wanted a conventional funeral and burial, and when she died I had her cremated. Her ashes are still in my closet. I’m gonna make some specific bequests of my books to people I think will appreciate them, but I don’t expect to have any effect on anything once I’m dead. Not many people will care about my typography titles. Mysteries, a few; style guides, fewer.

As it happens, my fretting about what a mess I’ll leave when I buy the farm is also impermanent, and when I take three or six or 20 deep slow breaths all is well right now.