Conversational Outline Part 1

Tuesday, 4 August 2009

We can stuff them full of botox and stick them full of collagen. We can mummify them at the other end. But in the end, human bodies are still gonna biodegrade, aren't they? Like wood. In certain conditions, however, wood can outlast a human body; carbonised under extreme heat, it can last for millennia.

But still, everything dies. And so even if your life had been different, even if you'd died in your own bed of old age, you still wouldn't have escaped death in the end, even if you'd outrum the volcano. None of us gets to escape death, unfortunately. There are whispers from some that it's lost its sting. There are some who seem positively in denial about it (hence the whole botox thing).

I wonder how long it takes for things of stone and things of bronze to disappear? Those things stand strong across the centuries, across millennia even. In 1709, an Italian farmer sank a well and in the process hit upon a marble sculpture that existed in the town next to yours, at the time that you lived. Buried 1630 years before and forgotten. That farmer was sinking for that well exactly 300 years before me. We sure do have a lot of space between us, you and me, don't we?

I saw some marbled things from your town today, stone things and bronzed things. The space between you and me is green patina on bronze objects. The things were owned by the rich people who lived in your town. They sat today in glassed-in display cabinets in my hometown across the world. It was interesting seeing how your people lived. They were pretty cashed up by the looks, if they were the lucky ones. Not like you. I saw spoons and measuring devices and beds and frescoes. I saw busts and cooking ovens and plaster casts of a bread loaf carbonised within one of those ovens.

Those things were all interesting. But they were just stuff, in the end. What pricked my heart most of all was seeing you. But not even you. The outline of you. How strange it is that even with just an outline of your body, I know what you were trying to do on 24 August 79AD. You were trying to escape.

Some of us die without leaving behind any sort of imprint. I don't know what the imprint of your life was on the people you knew. Did you have enemies? Did someone love you? Did you yearn for someone? I bet in a million years you never would have thought you'd leave behind the kind of imprint you actually did, though, huh? This life is sure weird, especially when you view it through millennial lenses.

You didn't escape the volcano, nor your own death. I don't know if any volcanic eruptions will feature in my demise, but I guess I'm not going to survive my own life without dying either. But you know what? It seems impossible to me in some ways that I am going to die. Even though I can see it happening before my eyes in slow slow motion. I don't believe my body is going to die. But at the same time, spiritually I do not feel like death is going to be the end. Has it been the end for you?

Part 2


  1. PS its not your WRITING that floors me, its your THINKING

  2. this is the kind of post I don't know how to respond to, your writing floors me. I am going to read part two now.

  3. Pompeii?

    I just this minute finished watching a news segment about a 16 year old girl who has not grown or aged or developed since 9 months. She is literally still a baby...and they call her condition syndrome X because they still have no idea what is going on, and she is unique in all the world as far as they know. She has won the war.

    I seriously think I like the alternative better...aging over not aging.

  4. It was Pompeii, Erin :)

    I think there are lessons to be learnt in ageing - really big ones, ones that send us inward to encounter God. What shits me is our stupid baby culture's underlying insistence on there somehow being something wrong with women for getting older.

  5. You know, I do hate the batwings, though. You know, the upper arm flab? Yeah, that. I could skip that part of aging.

  6. Yeah, that is *particularly* unattractive, isn't it. I s'pose you could just go through the rest of your life not clapping in the warmer months but where's the fun in that?


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