Namaste: If Not Now, When? Chapter 8 Consulting Death As Your Advisor

Whether or not you believe your soul is immortal, you know your physical body will die eventually. Death is the elephant in the symbolic living room of most people’s lives. They pretend it isn’t there because they desperately fear it. All that pretending takes energy and now that you are becoming a warrior, you realize that your energy is like, as Dr. Strangelove was fond of saying, your precious bodily fluid. You need to conserve it or lose it to the dude in the elephant suit sitting in your Barko Lounger sipping your Bombay Sapphire, puffing a Havana cigar, and blowing perfect smoke rings that throb toward you and gently settle around your head and neck forming a smoky Hawaiian lei.

“Dr. Livingston, I presume,” Death says with an arched eyebrow and a sneering tone.

How do you respond? My advice is don’t piss him off, right? Maybe if you hadn’t been so damn rude by ignoring him all this time, he wouldn’t be confronting you, right? Go on, say something.

“Uhm, hi Death. How’s it going?”

“Relax, shit for brains. I don’t bite.” Death pauses and smiles. “You know what Yogi Berra used to say, don’t you?”

“Uhm, no.”

Death blows another ring and says, “There comes a time in every man’s life, and it usually does. You know what he meant, don’t you?”

“Uhm, no.”

“Are you stupid, or what.”

“Uhm, no.”

“Listen up, you stupid self-important little piece of shit. I want you when I want you. I take you when I want you. I know when that is, but I don’t tell you because I don’t have to and you’re a stupid little shit.”

“But, I . . .”

“Shut-up. Listen to me. What would you do, if I told you I was going to take you while you’re shtupping your boy toy, Marcus, on top of your desk tomorrow at 2:33 PM?”

“Excuse me, I’m a married man and I don’t schtup boys.”

“Really. You’re a family-values Republican, aren’t you?”

“Well, yes.”

“There you have it. You can’t fool me, you know.”

“That’s outrageous. Who are you?”

“I’m a fucking elephant sitting in your fucking living room drinking your fucking gin and smoking your fucking cigars. You got a problem with that?”

“Get out or I’ll call security.”

“No can do. Order a pizza and tell them to cut it into four pieces because I’m not hungry enough to eat six.”

“You’re disgusting.”

“No, I’m your death. Your constant companion. I’m attached to you and have to watch every fucking stupid thing you do and listen to every fucking stupid lie you tell. Why don’t you just come out of the fucking closet and quit hiding what you are? You think your wife doesn’t know it? Why all the disguises and lies? Why not be proud that you’re gay, admit that you’re gay, and quit publicly demonizing others who are gay – as if openly hating gays isn’t like hanging a sign around your neck telling everyone you’re gay and you’re a fucking hypocrite? You’ve got to be very careful if you don’t know where you’re going, because you might not get there. Explain to me why hating yourself for what you are does you any fucking good.”

“Uhm, I don’t know.”

“Okay, I’ll spell it out for you. The truth is the truth is the truth. Be what you are. Own who you are. Be a beacon of light instead of a closed closet door. When you come to a fork in the road, take it because if you don’t know where you are going, you might wind up someplace else, and you don’t want to go to Heaven anyway because nobody goes there anymore. It’s too crowded.”

Your death will take you whenever your time is up. If death is an eternal sleep without conscious awareness or a bridge to another life in a new physical body with a new brain that has no memory of your past lives, your life in your present body, as Yogi would say, “isn’t over until it’s over.” Worrying about when it will end, how it will end, and what, if anything, awaits you on the other side is a waste of time and energy. Enjoy the time you have left and live each moment as if it were your last. Seize control of your life. Do important things. Don’t waste time on self-deception, deceiving others, pettiness, and stupid shit.

Personify your death, converse with it, trust it, and consult it as your advisor. Death kills self-importance because it reduces everything in the universe to the same level. Death is a gift from the One because it injects meaning and purpose into our lives. As Yogi might say, “If it wasn’t for death, we’d die of boredom.”

What you put off until tomorrow may never happen, if tomorrow never comes for you.

Author’s note:

There is a plethora of Yogi Berra quotes in this chapter. Each is duly footnoted and attributed to the Master in my original manuscript.

Cross-Posted at Firedoglake and Smirking Chimp.

If Not Now, When? is my intellectual property. I retain full rights to my own work. You may copy it and share it with others, but only if you credit me as the author.

My real name is Frederick Leatherman. I was a criminal-defense lawyer for 30 years specializing in death-penalty defense and forensics. I also was a law professor for three years.

Now I am a writer and I also haul scrap for a living in this insane land.




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10 Comments on “Namaste: If Not Now, When? Chapter 8 Consulting Death As Your Advisor”

  1. David P. Baumgardner Says:

    You weren’t just a law professor, you were my favorite law professor…wish you were in WI mentoring me in my assigned cases for the SPD. Death isn’t the elephant. he’s the procrastinating Angel. So many times he was supposed to come for me; he just sat there…. my stroke at age four, missed both Gulf wars, spinal injuries, hyper tension and aneurism. What’s a guy gotta do to be able to discorporate? Hopefully, Death will pour me a Makers and hand me a Havana when he finally comes. Have a drink. Have a cigar. You’re discorporated in a moment, they won’t hurt you now.
    With due respect to Robert Heinlein,

  2. laluna Says:

    we are but a speck in this universe. i take my lessons from the animals….if only i can be as gracious and dignified in sickness and upon my inevitable and approaching death. still, the reality is too real. the contemplation has been long.

    • masonblue Says:

      There is no reason to fear death, if your soul is immortal, and you do not know for certain that it is not.

      Why not decide to participate in an experiment by spending the time between today and Thanksgiving assuming and believing that your soul is immortal and death is but a passage to another experience bound up in a dream?

      Monitor yourself daily to stay the course and see how you change.

      • laluna Says:

        i am convinced, by the still, cold, lifeless body remaining, that it is only the soul, the spirit, that drives life, both now and in the hereafter.
        while i rush around, trying to dodge the bullets that would harm me and my loved ones, i know, at least intellectually, that this fear-based exercise is futile, and yet, i continue.
        when our friends lost their 24 year old only child to a brain aneurysm, and, previous, another couple lost a son to a drunk driving accident, they knew all of their fears were fully realized.
        one of the two couples is well enough, and have survived by hyper-focusing on their remaining child.
        the other mother, last i knew, was swimming in a sea of tears and collapsible grief, losing her grip on life, and her will to go on; this, from an otherwise spirited, life-loving, blessing-counting and joyful human being.
        your two posts overlap and intersect….the big ‘D’ with ‘terrible things happening’.
        i will, at your suggestion, push toward letting go of my grip on resisting death, and replacing fear with trust and acceptance.

      • masonblue Says:

        And don’t forget to laugh, especially at yourself, because then you will have conquered self-importance. Laughter, by the way, is great medicine.

        I do not mean to diminish the pain that comes from losing someone you love. That pain is unavoidable, but you can reduce the suffering because suffering is a mental state. This was one of the Buddha’s central teachings.

        A warrior’s quest for personal power is motivated, in part, by a desire to manage one’s mental states, rather than to be managed by them. Learning to detach from your programming and see yourself as a caricature wearing a large bib with bright red buttons that, when pushed, evoke certain predictable responses is a remarkably empowering thing to do.

        I have a feeling that you will enjoy this Thanksgiving much more than you have enjoyed it in a long time.


  3. laluna Says:

    there was a gathering of friends on the beach last evening with loud music coming from the speakers of one car. this group is usually quieter, mindful that the unhappy neighbors dislike their presence, and the simple fact that they often enjoy themselves…can’t have that! there ought to be a law! call the police!!
    it happens that their purpose this time was to surround and comfort the parents of an infant son, buried earlier in the day. and, still, there was laughter.

    “…my dad always taught me that when there’s an elephant in the room, introduce it.” ~Randy Pausch
    mine is very large and pink; indeed, you’ve prompted the image of a clown-nonfeminist-matriarch, drooling copiously on her bib.

    sometimes, i, too, am like the unhappy neighbors, having achieved perfect rigidity in this lifetime. i’ve attended the Lama’s lectures, loved his smile and ease, and even took notes…but have yet to ‘let go’ or detach…from anyone or anything.
    i’ll be working to reduce the size of my ‘speck’ (arm is twisted), as it’s embarrassing to have exuded self importance for so long.
    still, i hope the lioness will always be able keep her ‘roooaaarrr!!’ ~ a kind of superpower for the times ahead…like when the bottom falls out.

    the turkey will be especially symbolic this Thanksgiving.

    peace, my friend.

  4. laluna Says:

    “When Things Fall Apart ~ Heart Advice for Difficult Times” ~ Pema Chodron

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