“For we shall find that men of ambition and greatness of soul not only are desirous of praise for such things, but prefer a glorious death to life, zealously seeking glory rather than existence.” ~Isocrates (436–338 BC)
I think it is just human nature to wonder how it will all end. Admit it … you think about it from time to time. Will you wear out or burn out, have a macho death or an ignoble end?
Go out in a blaze of glory or fizzle out, so no one even notices that you’re gone?
Will you die by accident or by your own hand?
Will you die standing up or lying down? (I tried to find the stats on that but there aren’t any.)
I’ve listed ten events that could have shortened my life and rendered my Facebook page a memorial tribute page. That is how it happens these days, isn’t it? You read the news of someone’s passing by some two-line post by a “friend” on their home page. Then the page stays up for years, and you stop in to visit from time to time and read sad stuff that people write as though you (the dead person) were still around. Facebook is becoming the world’s largest ghost yard. My obit will drive traffic to my Facebook page. (I wonder if anyone is doing this yet?)
1. Locking it up on a narrow one-lane pass, on the way down the mountain switchbacks in India, to avoid a head-on collision.
2. Getting lost in the jungle after dark in Nicaragua.
3. Smelling the snake but not being able to see it in the undergrowth of the Brazilian jungle as we cut our way into some backwater lagoons to fish for peacock bass.
4. Flying in a Cold War–era aircraft in Russia. The interior was covered in paneling like what you see on station wagons from the 1960s. The stewardess looked like she was a WWF wrestler.
5. Trying to drink like the locals in an Irish pub. We stopped in to warm up, when I was on a fishing trip in Ireland. Seemed innocent enough at the time. My liver still shrinks up even at the mere mention of the word whiskey.
6. Getting swept downriver in Mongolia and being pulled out by the scruff of my neck by a Mongol on horseback.
7. Eating unrefrigerated sashimi, off the bar top, in a roadside dive after a day of bonefishing in the Bahamas.
8. Seeing the end of the runway fall away at the edge of a cliff as the overloaded plane we were in taxied down the makeshift airstrip hidden in the jungle. I still don’t know to this day how we cleared the tree line.
9. Getting caught in a changing tide while wading the flats at Abaco and feeling the sharks brushing against my flank as the guide took care to keep me between him and the gang of adolescent sharks.
10. Trying to film underwater footage of catfish being released in water that was home to trophy gators. Dumb, and the guide told me so …
I wouldn’t say that I’m a daredevil. (Others may.) I was not intentionally risking my life for a small audience.
In 1901, a 63-year-old retired schoolteacher named Annie Taylor became the first person to go over Niagara Falls in a barrel. Why? I keep asking myself that question. Perhaps people ask the same about my behavior.
I’m not an adrenaline junky like today’s extreme sportspeople. I’m more like an inventor and adventurer, someone who pushes the envelope, to try and get the shot and/or get the fish at any cost.
Over the years, I dreamt up many cool contraptions for capturing fishing footage in ways that were new and wonderfully unexpected. Helium-balloon cams, remote-control underwater boat cams, cable cams, and more. I would do things from behind the false safety of the lens that I would not dare to try otherwise.
So yes, I was rudely confronted with the possibility that I had bitten off more than I could chew on more than a few occasions from in front and behind the camera. But I was always smart enough not to repeat the same offense twice.
Or so I thought …
I think that most of us would like to live a good looonggg life and pass away in our sleep. None of us wants to die a violent death or a dumb death.
Yes, there are dumb deaths. Death by cell phone is an example of a dumb death. How would they explain that one away in the obit? So-and-so lived a good life until she answered God’s call …
How about death by bug bite?
Dumbest way ever to die!
Oh please, don’t let me die a death by bug bite. Here are some other dumb possibilities:
“Death’s a funny thing. I used to think it was a big, sudden thing, like a huge owl that would swoop down out of the night and carry you off. I don’t anymore. I think it’s a slow thing. Like a thief who comes to your house day after day, taking a little thing here and a little thing there, and one day you walk round your house and there’s nothing there to keep you, nothing to make you want to stay. And then you lie down and shut up forever. Lots of little deaths until the last big one.” ~Neil Gaiman, The Sandman, Vol. 10: The Wake
Visit Kathryn Maroun’s What A Catch! website.