I'm getting on a plane in a couple of days. By my nature, I'm not a great flyer, but those who know me know that I've had hypnosis to help me with this issue, and so far, so good.
In other words, I haven't been clucking like a chicken when the flight attendant says "Fasten your seatbelts, we're expecting turbulence…" so all good.
I was first able to comprehend the concept of death when, at the age of eight, I slipped and fell on a hard concrete floor. The breath was knocked out of me—as was any thought of surviving to my ninth birthday.
Ever since, I’ve wondered how MY TURN would come. A car wreck? Cancer? Choking on a sandwich?
Take a look at the odds: a person dies in a car wreck every third minute of every day. Marin County, California, where I live, has the highest breast cancer rate in the country. Then of course, there’s Mama Cass.
I’ve never been one to assume my own immortality. I’ve had too many near-misses with the Grim Reaper. Three incidences were water-related. Needless to say, you won’t find me surfing the riptides off Stinson Beach. I even take a life preserver into the bathtub.
My kids say I’m no fun at the amusement park. They don’t realize, each time I refuse to get on the roller coaster or the ferris wheel, I’ve just saved their lives. Don’t they know that the one time I consent to a ride, it will go spiraling off into oblivion?
My husband tells me I’ve died a thousand cowardly deaths. Only when you’re at the wheel, I retort. If I’m going to be a statistic, I prefer not to share top billing, let alone be an asterisk in someone else’s grand finale.
Airplanes? Hey, you've already been duly warned. Job-related flying in the high-on-the-hog ‘90s kept my knuckles a constant shade of pale. To this day there exists a frequent travelers’ club for Plane Passengers Who Have Sat Next To Josie Brown. Members sport identical nail marks on their right arms, and bonus points are given for the number of times each has chanted the mantra, “Trust me, flying is 200 times safer than driving” while sitting next to me.
I’ve always believed that the Greater Being has created each of us for some imperative purpose. For years, this has been one way I have rationalized an otherwise debilitating fear of the afterlife.
Then I remember the Six Degrees of Separation theory. If it is true that each of us is somehow connected to everyone else by a maximum of six others, I certainly hope my grand purpose is greater than, say, having once been the thirteen-year-old babysitter for a future serial killer. I’d hate to think it was my aversion to changing his diaper that set him off.
Despite our techno-surroundings, Heaven’s hype grows proportionately with each subsequent generation. The latest version of Our Final Reward, Heaven is filled with angels and old friends basking in the glow of happiness and love. Streets are paved in gold, there is no pain or suffering, and the afterlife is ageless.
I’ll buy that. Sign me up. But not today. I’d like to tough it out here for a few more years, to see if I might be able to carve out a little bit of heaven here on earth.
Or, In the words of that immortal sex kitten Ann-Margaret, I’ve gotta lotta livin’ to do.