I have an obituary hanging in my office cubicle.
I have been displaying this obituary for over four years, ever since I found it in the back of a local heavy metal zine. I do not know the man mentioned in the obituary personally; I have never met him and have no idea who his family or friends happened to be. The obituary is as follows:
Shawn K. – Died October 24 in San Bernadino, CA.
The drummer of the metal band Prolific was hit by an airborne car battery that had been ejected from a single-car accident on the other side of the freeway.
I remember exactly where I was when I first discovered this obituary. I was eating a veggie panini at Einstein Bros. Bagels during my lunch break, and upon reading it, dropped the sandwich from my hand. For the next five minutes, I stared into space and thought about the unfathomable freak accident that took this man’s life. I thought about how it was possible that such an accident even happened. Was he behind the wheel of a car? Just walking down the street? How brutal was the single-car accident on the other side of the freeway to even launch a battery that far? It was and still is one of craziest and most bizarre deaths I’ve ever heard about.
Go back and read it again.
Whenever I read about things like this (and we all read about them every day), I instantly think about two things. One, who still believes in Fate? Who honestly thinks that it was this poor guy’s destiny to be sent into Heaven this way? Who honestly thinks that it be God’s will that children die of Leukemia, or waste away in the basement of a neglectful parent? These events always remind me that Life is random, and there is no God that decides how you will die. Period; end of argument. If you want to believe in a God that hurls car batteries at percussionists, you go for it. I, on the other hand, am steering clear (mind the pun).
And before you get all over me for no good reason, I’m not saying that God doesn’t exist, I’m saying that Fate doesn’t exist.
Secondly, and this is the most important part, I always try to take away something positive from the scattershot nature of Life (after all, that could have been me eating that car battery, and there’s always tomorrow for another crack at it). Being an Agnostic doesn’t mean that it’s all gloom and Nihilism. There’s a wealth of positivity in knowing that you’re completely in charge of your destiny, and that it can just as soon be taken away from you for no good reason. It drops the chains of guilt. Makes you focus more on the positives and the present. Makes you respect and appreciate the moments, and not waste your time worrying about being judged later.
For the sake of full disclosure, I will admit that the darkest recesses of my heart also find this story to be slightly humorous, too. I mean, how could you not? However, I find it humorous in a head-shaking, ‘That’s Life’ sort of way. Everything you work for, everything you plan for and everything you strive for can be taken away from you in ways that you could never possibly imagine. You can’t become an agoraphobic, either; this danger of a Random World needs to be embraced. It needs to be looked at with humor, otherwise most of us would never leave our homes again.
So every morning, I sit down in my office chair, take a deep sip of coffee, look up at Shawn’s obituary, and remind myself that it is completely unnecessary to stress out over insignificant business. We are fragile. We are weak. Most of us lose the plot every single day. But it’s okay. It’s totally okay.
It’s all okay.