Its been said “You Can’t Keep A Good Man Down”
For the “not so good”, we have this handy little travel kit…
The cavalcade of the bereaved friends and family of Aretha Franklin and John McCain has dispersed. Aretha’s funeral lasted six hours. People were complaining about the length of it, despite amazing musical tributes from many talented artists whose careers were inspired by her majestic voice. One by one, they took the stage and sang from the depths of their souls, each note bringing us closer to the divine as they submitted to the music and let it sing through them. Fantasia Barrino transported herself to some otherworldly place with her performance of “You’ve Got A Friend”
Jennifer Hudson seemed to morph into the Queen of Soul right before our eyes with her rendition of Amazing Grace. It was one of the most surreal performances ever given by Ms. Hudson, who is cast as Aretha herself in a movie about her life scheduled for release later this year
I was so uplifted by these two performances, as well as those by Gladys Knight, Ariana Grande, Stevie Wonder and so many other brilliant artists who loved her so much. The only disappointment was when tax cheat, arsonist and liar Rev. Al Sharpton rose up to share his tribute to Aretha, but instead, served us a bitter cup of political hate speech via an attack on the President of the United States along with a half-assed excuse for his inability to spell simple words…
I found that to be one of the more tasteless moments the Reverend has ever delivered, and that includes his whole Tawana Brawley scam from years ago.
The Sacred and the Profane
Death is a taboo subject in our society. We have been conditioned to become uncomfortable and squeamish when discussing it, and we’ve developed an almost instinctive recoil when we are reminded of our own mortality. As someone who has been resuscitated more than one time, I have discovered that the process of dying is a sacred and interactive ritual that we must perform with reverence and solemnity.
For me, it was like turning off breaker switches. One by one, we lovingly remember the people, places and events that shaped our lives and inspired us to continue along our path. Often times, those people places and events have informed us further on opinions we had previously considered absolute; inspiring us to change our opinions and commit to a revised and corrected trajectory. When we finally get to the last breaker switch, we realize we are about to say goodbye to everything and everyone we knew. We hope the people we loved know we loved them, we hope the people we wronged, knowingly or unknowingly, will forgive us. The remorse for any transgressions we made is enormously painful, and we must hope for forgiveness and ultimately forgive ourselves before we can move on. I lingered over that last breaker switch, thinking “What if you go out with the lights?” Then, I said “Fuck it! Let’s roll! Miss Thang is OUTTA here!” and there I went, off into the wild blue fucking yonder.
There is indeed consciousness after physical death. Don’t only take my word for it – I did an internet search of people who had the same experience (they had to provide proof of resuscitation, so the original list shrunk from more that 10,000 down to about 1,200). You do indeed judge yourself before you might be judged by someone/something else, but I obviously never got to meet that someone/something else. You will experience key moments in your life exactly as you did when they first happened. You will recall moments and conversations with others, see them through the same eyes as you did, hear your own voice coming out of your mouth, but you will feel the effect your words or deeds had on others, good or bad. There’s more, but I don’t want to give away the ending lol.
I’m not writing this post to aggrandize myself or my experience; I’m writing it to let you know that death and dying are beautiful, sacred milestones we achieve after a lifetime of struggle, challenge and celebration. Death and the process of dying are to be treated with reverence and respect. We did not see any of that this past week. Instead, we saw a profane performance meant to create division, polarization and discord. It is for that reason that I choose to talk shit about the dead when they have it coming. If their last months have been spent writing the script and choreography for a hatefest, they have it coming.
Sadly, rather than being left with reflective thoughts inspired by carefully crafted words, the shit show we were force fed leaves us with an inspiration best contained in this tweet:
Hopefully, this post will give you a choice of how to metabolize this past week’s media circus. You can accept their direction and use it as a guideline on “How to Produce Your Own Shit Show”, or you can transcend the intended effect of polarization and division our media giants were hoping for, and silently acknowledge the passing of two extraordinary people whose lives embodied two extreme and opposite ends of the emotional spectrum and then find your own place between them.
I’m at the place I have to hit “publish” to post this, and I’m wavering. I’ve never before publicly shared this private experience of mine, and I’m sure there will be some backlash. I’m ready for it, because if just a few people take a minute to ponder the enormity of what death and dying actually represent and walk away with a warm feeling instead of preconditioned revulsion, making myself vulnerable will have been worth it.
So off you go – hopefully with some new thoughts on an old taboo.