Saturday, January 23, 2010
THE REAL ME FOR POSTERITY
If I had to pick an inanimate object to represent my life, what would I pick? And why would I even think of doing this in the first place?
It’s all because of a feature article in this morning’s LA Times that talks about the evolving field of designing urns for one’s ashes. And just as I never am able to pass a survey by without taking it, neither can I not rise to the challenge of figuring out what urnable object best represents my understanding of my life.
The newspaper features some very interesting and actually quite beautiful urns. Even the urns that I laughed at were beautiful in their own way. And yes, I did laugh at some of them. One was the body of a fish that had two chicken-like legs holding the front end of the fish up, making a graceful swoop of the fish body, which of course is where the deceased’s ashes were contained. I can see that urn being used by one of two people – those who thought evolution was preposterous, such as a religious conservative, or those who thought otherwise, a scientist or a biologist, maybe. Anyway, it made me laugh and if I fell into one of those categories I would certainly want people to laugh at my ashes.
There was another “urn” that caught my eye. It is a birdfeeder – like a seed bell, but looked like a gourd birdhouse with a little hole in the side. Under the hole was a perch inscribed with the deceased’s statistics. Now the uniqueness of this urn is that it is made of bird seed, beeswax and the deceased’s ashes. It is meant to be hung outside and eaten up by finches or chickadees. Now this probably will be an off-putting idea to many people – but I find it a great idea to signify one’s understanding of the impermanency of human life. From ashes to ashes, dust to dust, you know.
Perhaps this one appeals to me because for the last five years Jerry and I have purchased dozens and dozens of birdseed bells and hung them on a wrought-iron staff outside our front window to watch the birds eat at the seeds. This year I told him that I was finished with the seed bells. The pile of seed husks had raised our lawn under the seed bell about 2 inches, had killed the grass, and would be blown all over the porch whenever we got a wind from the right direction. So even though this one has great appeal to me, I think having one’s ashes rain down on the lawn along with the husks (if the birds didn’t eat all the ashes at the same time) probably is a good reason for me not to choose that one. And my kids might object to its impermanency.
Before I tell you what object I have decided on (if I were to change my mind and give up “my property” at the Montecito Ash Garden, which isn’t likely), I’d like to encourage you to take a peek at these really amazing designs, either at the LA Times online, where you’ll find the whole article, I’m sure, or at Funeria.com, which is headquartered in Graton, California. Yes, Dorothy, there IS a Graton!
So now for the big moment. I have decided that the objet d’art for my ashes should be a computer mouse. I considered a monitor, a CPU, a legal-sized file cabinet, a ream of paper (this one came close to being at the top) and a stack of CDs. But I think that a mouse, complete with left- and right- click panels and a tail, is what would represent me quite nicely. And not to mention that even the shape of a mouse is similar to how I’ve morphed in my old age – kind of thick in the middle. It may not be as dramatic as a birdseed bell, but I’m thinking it is pretty much “me.”