For a Dancer
This is a post about death, so if you would rather not deal with that, just move on. If, however, you are open to reading my thoughts, then carry on. I am listening to Jackson Browne singing For a Dancer, which is the one song I have told my daughter that I would like played on the occasion of my death. She didn’t like hearing that. I didn’t like saying it, but we both appreciate the bond that talking about the song has given us for when that day arrives. I am not looking forward to it, nor is she, but it will come.
I remember when I was in graduate school and talking with a friend and I said: “If I die…” When I was done he said: “When you die…” So much for denial. Since then I have said “when” and had to acknowledge that this is not an “if” thing or at least it hasn’t been as far as I know.
Each of us has to come to grips with our own mortality in our own way. I personally opt for being in denial as much as possible and to focus my energies on living. Death will come as it will, when it will. While there are certain actions I can take to increase the odds of my longevity, there is no way to beat the system.
Since we are going to die and most of us don’t enjoy dwelling on it let me just suggest a few things to consider so you can more comfortably put death in its place – wherever that is. The way I see it, you need to deal with the financial, the personal and, depending on point of view, the spiritual.The better job you do managing those thee items the more comfortable you will be. Now and into the future. Since money is the number one stressor people have and relationships are continually in flux it isn’t easy to be on top of either one of these items. Which is why people flock to denial and often double down on the spiritual focus.
There are some people who are very vigilant about dealing with their finances and then there is the rest of us. Earning and saving enough money to feel that you can comfortable live a long life is not something most people get to experience. If you are comfortable with your finances than you can focus more on your relationships. If you aren’t as satisfied as you would like to be with your earnings and retirement plan my best advice is to go see a financial adviser or two. It is a big pain to go through the process to exam the money coming in and the money going out. It is even a bigger pain going through the process of what you need to do to secure at least a greater degree of security if not security itself. This process demands you leave denial and deal with reality, which is, after all, a place you are wanting to stay.
If over there is the amount of money you need to make and save to feel sufficiently secure and your over here feeling far away from that destination you are going to have a nagging anxiety that might help move you to trying to handle things in a better way. Or not. There is a gap that needs to be handled in some way. Depending on your age and circumstances you might want to face that gap head on, but if you are under a certain age you can go back into denial for a few months and then gather your energies to have a serious confrontation to how you are going to address that gap.
Facing that gap and dealing with your finances is the main thing couples fight about which means you probably are going to have to pay some attention to your primary relationship outside of the one you have with yourself. The more honest, thoughtful, compassionate and solution oriented you can be the better for all. Your lover, your family, your friends and your community are going to go through your life with you one way or the other. Endeavoring to be honest with those you love about your circumstances while it might shame and embarrass you, could actually end up helping you in ways you won't know until you take the risk to be open about your present and future finances.
Most people are reluctant to strike up a conversation about finances and they are even more reluctant to start one about death. But, sooner or later these issues are going to need to be addresses and like most things sooner is often better than later.
I suggest an occasional discussion about death that lasts maybe less than 3 minutes might be a good place to start. My daughter didn’t like it when I we were listening to music and Jackson Browne started singing For a Dancer and I told her that I wanted her to play that at my funeral. But it is now on the playlist and that discussion lasted less than a minute. Since then we have seen him perform that song and gave each other a meaningful look and heard it play in the car and house and had an uncomfortable but lovingly knowing look pass between us.
I consider those exchanges to be a form of spirituality. In my world, connection with someone or something outside of you that brings meaning and value to your life is spiritual. However you look at life, death and the forces outside of yourself there are always reminders of the fragility of life. Acknowledging the finiteness, uncertainty and mystery of life and death helps us appreciate the moments we have available to us.
For a Dancer
Keep a fire burning in your eye Pay attention to the open sky You never know what will be coming down I don't remember losing track of you You were always dancing in and out of view I must have thought you'd always be around
Always keeping things real by playing the clown Now you're nowhere to be found
I don't know what happens when people die Can't seem to grasp it as hard as I try It's like a song I can hear playing right in my ear That I can't sing, I can't help listening And I can't help feeling stupid standing 'round Crying as they ease you down 'Cause I know that you'd rather we were dancing
Dancing our sorrow away (Right on dancing) No matter what fate chooses to play (There's nothing you can do about it anyway)
Just do the steps that you've been shown By everyone you've ever known Until the dance becomes your very own No matter how close to yours another's steps have grown In the end there is one dance you'll do alone
Keep a fire for the human race Let your prayers go drifting into space You never know what will be coming down Perhaps a better world is drawing near And just as easily it could all disappear Along with whatever meaning you might have found
Don't let the uncertainty turn you around (The world keeps turning around and around) Go on and make a joyful sound
Into a dancer you have grown from a seed somebody else has thrown Go on ahead and throw some seeds of your own And somewhere between the time you arrive and the time you go May lie a reason you were alive but you'll never know