May 26, 2005

Curious George: Where to die?

Last night I only slept two hours, and got me to thinking... There have been three occasions in my life, that I recall, where I found myself in a spot/place that filled me with such an inner-peace that I said to myself, "I could die here." 1. 1985, unnamed prairie land in South Dakota: Fall was upon us with a brisk chill in the air, yet on this day the sun beamed down with exceptional brightness and warmth. I rode my bike through trails, under railway passes, and across an old cemetary to one of my favorite spots. The grasses were very tall after a long summer, and I proceeded to plop myself in a large patch that was starting to go brown. I lay there, surrounded by cruchy grasses, as if I was in a giant bird's nest. The cold air howled above me, yet as I lay outstretched with my eyes closed, the sun warmed me in a way I never felt before.... cold and warm at the same time, I savored every breath. I was just a kid, but realized at that moment was true peace felt like. I could have died... 2. 1997, Naritasan Shinshojii Temple, Japan: Visiting this temple complex is an experience hard to put into words. There was a small side-park within the complex that I wandered into. It was simple, balanced and lush with overhanging vines. One peculiar branch I saw was extremely long and twisted with no vegetation except at the very end. A friend found an inscription on a plaque that said this particular vine was cared for by the same monk for numerous decades. I laid down underneath a cascade of leafy vegetaion and said, "I could die here!" 3. 2003, Mount Batur, Bali, Indonesia: Married in Jakarta, we spent our honeymoon in Bali (who wouldn't?). While I was extremely bored and dissapointed with the touristy Kuta Beach area, venturing out further into Bali brought sights and experiences I could have never imagined. After reaching the top of Mount Batur, I was breathless as we stood atop and gazed downward towards the lake within the crater at the base of the mount. Alas, this is the last spot where I thought to myself, "I could die here..." There is a community of Trunyan villagers who reside on the opposite side of the lake. Unlike other Balinese, who cremate the dead, the Trunyan leave thier dead to decompose naturally at the base of certain trees - - you can view the bodies if you like - - and any smell of decay is indistinguishable due to properties of this particular species of tree (which for the life of me I cannot remember the name) So fellow monkeys, do you have any similar experiences? If so, please share your places; where to die!?

  • I'm envious of the 'inner peace' feeling; guess there's some over-cranked bolt somewhere inside my head that doesn't let me experience that. There are a couple places where I've felt, if not at peace with the world, at least quite content, happy, relaxed; quite particular moments where the place and the situation collided and left me breathlessy flushed, at ease. One, many years ago at the Xel-Há inlet in Quintana Roo, Mexico. Ahh, the sun... The other was much recently, in a place very, very far from there. Not that I would have wanted to die there and then, but I wouldn't have mind if that did happen...
  • Iargo Springs on the Ausable River near Oscoda Michigan. A natural spring deep in the woods along the bank of the Ausable river in Michigan. Native Americans considered it a sacred site, a few moments alone there early in the morning and you'll understand why. Deep lush woods behind you with small springs coming out of the base of a steep hill (perhaps 200 feet up, 60 degree slope, covered with old growth trees and ferns) that run into the river. In front of you a wide expanse of the Ausable, peaceful, quiet, flowing.. Overhead Bald Eagles soaring in the currents, diving for fish.... yep, if I don't die there, at least spread the ashes there....
  • Nice, HB. I'm like Flagpole, I don't really get that feeling. I think too much.
  • 1. Waking up one night in the arms of a particular man, breathing in his scent, hearing his breathing. 2. Lying on a blanket of snow for the first time, feeling it crunch beneath my body, the chill permeating my body in a comforting way. I guess the willingness to die for me was more a state of mind than a location. Or maybe I haven't found the right place(s) yet.
  • sugarmilktea, given the first few comments here, I will sit back and enjoy the outpouring it appears this post will elicit... excellent post, excellent idea... Thanks to those who have shared, thanks in advance to those who will...
  • MMmmmmphf *stifling* comment about euthanasia
  • Plenty of places where I thought I was gonna die, but I don't think that's what you're after. For the inner-peace thing, two occasions: 1. Walking across Queen's Park circle with a girl I had just met maybe an hour before, dead night, dead of winter, she clutching my arm so she 'wouldn't slip'. 2. Sitting in a living room in St. Pete's, Florida, talking with a woman where we both wanted to make a move but didn't, daylight falling into dusk, falling into night, to the point where it was just the two of us talking in the dark, where the only movement was of the glowing tip of her cigarette floating back and forth between her mouth and her lap.
  • after I got kicked out of metafilter for asking to see mathowie's tits.
  • Esalen Institute, Big Sur, California, 1997. I visited for a weekend with my mom and my best friend. This was back when they still had the mineral hot tubs set right in the cliffs, before El Nino destroyed them. I was too shy to soak in the tub nude when there were people around, so I waited until midnight. There was no one there, I had the huge tub to myself, floating there with the Milky Way shining bright overhead and the surf crashing below. I've never again been so close to nirvana.
  • There's a parcel of abandoned property in my small hometown of Oakwood, Ohio, just outside of Dayton. It's a circle of open meadow surrounded thickly with trees, so you can't see the road or hear much of anything. In the middle of this meadow is a house that burned down decades ago. All that is left standing is the floorboards, some of the stone walls, and a giant stone chimney. There's tall, lush meadowgrass all around. I used to escape to there at all hours of day and night when in high school. One evening, I went there in the wee smas of the morning with a friend. As we sat on the crumbling stone walls in friendly silence, it started to snow--first snowfall of the winter. He said, "If you close your eyes, you can hear the snowflakes hitting the ground." And he was right. It was that quiet. Sitting on the foundation of that old building, listening to the snow fall on a soft, winter evening, surrounded by dark tree sillouhettes, I remember thinking that I would be happy if I died right then and there. It's still one of my favorite places to visit when I return home.
  • There's a few places around the West of Dublin, out in the villages in Meath, that are serene and beautiful. I wouldn't mind kickin' the bucket out there. But I'd prefer not to kick the bucket at all, quite honestly.
  • Yeah, not that I would want to kick the bucket, but if given the choice... Or if it had happened then and there, I wouldn't mind as Flagpole said. Very interesting replies, thanks for sharing everyone!
  • I am having an intense craving for something cheesy so right now dying inside a huge box/bag of cheez-its snack crackers or cheese puffs sounds like high-sodium nirvana. Cravings aside, I wouldn't mind dying in the back yard of my childhood home on a sunny but not too hot Saturday afternoon. Or in the middle of/hovering over a lotus bed in bloom. The first time I saw Echo Park's lotus bed (said to be the largest outside China) in full bloom, I was astonished and the sacred associations of the flower made sense in a very visceral way.
  • 1,2- Up in the Alaskan wilderness, lying on my back on the ground, staring up at either: A) Snow gently falling from the purple sky accented by the black bones of empty trees. B) A black sky filled with the reds, yellows, and greens of Alaska's night rainbow, the Aurora Borealis. 3- Camping by Parowon, Utah. Layered red and orange cliff mountains, interspersed with mint green speckles of brush. 4- Waimanu Valley on Hawai'i Island. Only accessable by helicopter or a 1 to 2 day hike. Beautiful black sand beach, enclosed by sheer cliff 1200ft high, with 7+ active waterfalls. The week we spent there we were accomponied by a giant seal who'd fish in the freshwater stream, and bath in the sun on the beach.
  • drunk on the rarest single malt, in bed, with a 20-year-old nymphette, stepped on by an elephant. that's the way to go. totally.
  • Sitting on my rocking chair on the porch, hearing my loved one sing to herself inside the house somewhere, watching the grandchildren playing at gardening in the veg patch, pestering me again with 'So what EXACTLY did you do in the great Social Revolution of 2017 gramps?'.
  • Newfound Harbor Marine Institute, Big Pine Key, Florida. Went there for a spring break trip with a marine biology class about fifteen years ago (holy SHIT, fifteen years). The plumbing was shit, the coffee was third rate, we got eaten alive by mosquitos every night, and the bunk bedsprings were so weak that you sank a full foot when you climbed in for the night, but never have I had a greater feeling of peace or rest. When the wind came in off the ocean in the evening and rustled the palms, I'd lie there in my bunk and wish that I never had to go home again. Also there's a mountain up near Buena Vista, Colorado. Don't know its name, couldn't find it on a map. I spent a summer with some friends at a dude ranch up there, and one morning we got up at about four or five o'clock, mounted horses and rode up the side of the mountain. About halfway up we dismounted and had campfire breakfast -- greasy, burned bacon, runny eggs and lumpy coffee. Ate it right there on the mountain and watched the sun come up. Sitting there with greasy hands, sipping coffee and watching the mist burn off, I felt a profound sense of oneness with all things, which is so fucking hackneyed and cliche to write, but life-changing to experience.
  • I dreamed once, back in the 1960s, that I was dead and lying in a meadow in the California Sierra mountains. I melted into the ground, and then became one (ah, that's so cheezy, but I have no other way to express it) with the dirt, grass, trees. I was still conscious, but not as me. It gave me a great sense of peace to be part of the growing plants. On the other hand, having watched my father struggle to die, and it was hard work for him that last night, my guess (hope) is that we die where our our failing brain takes us in memory. The idea of one's life flashing before one's eyes makes me think we don't have to go out with just the last memories of our most recent experience of life. Certanly, his last memories were pretty bleak, but in his earlier life, he was all for love of what he did in life. I hope those were the memories that ushered him out at age 90, and that he wasn't stuck in the last years of his life when he was bedridden and in constant pain. Well, to cut to the nit, I don't think we get to choose.
  • *Link nsfw...contains diving nudity* While playing volleyball here.
  • I'll be dying at the working end of a hypodermic needle, location irrelevant. My family has a history of cancer and, in the words of Cypress Hill, I Ain't Going Out Like That. I lived through my Grandmother dying when I was young, then as an adult spent countless days in an ICU watching my Mom painfully wither away. I'll choose the humane solution, legal or not. Or, as techsmith said, "MMmmmmphf."
  • Oh, hey, can it be sunny out when I go. Y'know, a nice day? I could live with that...so to speak.
  • I've always thought Varanasi (Benares) has a great system: 1.) Hire ghat-wallah (or whatever the cremator's called) for a handful of rupees 2.) Die 3.) If ghat-wallah is an honest man, he'll burn you on the spot. If not, you'll rot in Mother Ganges. Whatever. You're dead, it's fine. I think this system is beautiful in in its efficiency; no dreary three-day layout, no hall or church to rent, no big metal box. The drawback is that if I'm sick enough to die, I probably won't feel like booking a flight to India. Where not to die: hospital. I'll probably die up in a hemlock tree in Maine, when I'm 65 or so. Which, when I think of it, isn't that far off.
  • I don't care so much where as I do about how... The best would be volunteeering for what is basically a suicide mission - some sort of high toned no-quarter dive into the shark pool - in which I am able to buy the lives of several other people by my sacrifice (Think: Dawn of the Dead; we're all trapped together in the mall; thousands of zombies are outside; we're almost out of food and water, and we have to escape. There's a brief moment of silence, and I say: "You know what we need? A diversion. Hand me a couple of guns and some extra ammo. At 10 sharp, I'll exeunt the front door tires squealing and guns blazing. You all wait until I get at least down the block and towards the woods - by then I should have most of them on my tail. Then you guys go out the back. Go as fast as you can, don't stop for nothing until you get to the marina..." [long pause] "I'll meet you there, right?" Then I tip the alpha male a wink, give the women and children a hundred watt smile, make a quick, silent peace with a diety I don't believe exists, shoulder on a biker jacket and my trusty 12-gauge, snatch the keys to the mall minibus, and go to my glory. From the pocket of the biker jacket, I will extract a single CD: Led Zeppelin, "Presence". Side one, song one, "Achilles Last Stand," 10 minutes 16 seconds. *snick-SNICK* More than long enough, I'd think. Time to go.
  • No, I gotta say I'd rather charge the zombie horde with some John Lee Hooker blaring. Boogie Chillen, maybe Dimples. And I'd want some serious hardware.
  • You suicide mission to your soundtrack, I'll suicide mission to mine.
  • Dude, you'd never survive a suicide mission with me. Wait a minute...
  • I want Fes with us when the zombies come! Brave guys with hundred watt smiles are my favs. I'd wanna die at home with family or while skydiving over snow-capped mountains.
  • Whereever. Whenever. However. I'm looking forward to it.
  • Good post idea! Great comments (well, most of them). I am hard pressed to think about dying at the moment, with a three, four, and seven year old (the last, a foster child who REALLY needs me around), to take care of. That said, I hope I am very close to Mother Nature when it happens.
  • Death is only temporary. Don`t for a minute think you are going to get out that easy! Your stuck and you ain`t going nowhere. Where to die, besides the toilet? I choose Mt. Evans . Highest paved road in the world. 14,000 feet. The most spiritual place alot of us would ever be able to access. I try to go there at least once a year.
  • And if anyone takes this serious, beware, the last 14 miles to the top is about a one and half lane road for traffic going up and down, and you sre driving just feet away from several thousand foot plunge to certain death. Do not expect an RV or camper of any type to be able to negotiate this road. Car loads of people die almost every year on this road.
  • After thinking this over a while, sugarmilktea, believe for me inner peace comes whenever my awarenwaa is fully absorbed in something I'm doing, such as writing, etc. At which times I lack a sense of myself, let alone whether I'm happy or unhappy. If ye see what I mean. Particular locations, however, seems to have little to do with this, really, in my experience.
  • I think your awarenaa was definitely absorbed in writing that comment, beeswacky. ;-)
  • Mine too.
  • I personally would like to hold out until they have the technology to upload brains. I would love to become one of the silver eggheads.
  • I personally would like to hold out until they have the technology to upload brains Yeah I wish you'd upload some brains too. /troll
  • fucknuckle!!!!11!! /vein throb
  • I thought it was my aunt Sharon who coined "fucknuckle". Are you my aunt Sharon?
  • Sat on the back of a rocking horse, wearing nothing but a massively oversized cowboy hat, sliding down a huge ski slope at fifty miles an hour and crashing into a vat full of caramel.
  • anywhere in the world, in the arms of Mr. SideDish.
  • Awww, that's so sweet! *vomits quietly in the corner*
  • but then i'd expect mr. sidedish to hold my lifeless and slowly disintegrating body for months until he, too, died from my putrid fumes. better, koko?
  • sounds like you folks might enjoy this movie.
  • much
  • I dunno, patita, "surrounded by my smiling, sun-lit family" would be the obvious choice, but "coke-driven college all-weekend threesome" is going to give any other candidate a pretty tight run for the money.
  • Oh, no, monkeys, pleeease don't die!
  • Since i'm a contrarian and seeing how everyone wants to die in some peaceful forest or glen, i choose to go.... ...at Home Depot in the Plumbing aisle.
  • The only time I've ever truly felt at peace is underwater. Something about the quiet, the crackle, the sound of my own breath, and the weightlessness, not to mention the all the fun fish... About once a week at work I get this feeling. We have a wall dive that's about an hour and half boat ride from the island and it takes my breath away every time I dive it. And every time, I think that if ever in my life I get to a point where I know I won't be happy anymore - I'm too old and weak to lift tanks, too senile to drive a boat, or getting too sick to blow bubbles and visit my fish friends - then I'm gonna gear up one last time, throw an extra ten pounds in my BCD, grab my flashlight, and dive one last time. I hear there's a beautiful sponge bridge down at about 250 feet...and I'll bet there's some wicked cool shit down there no one's lived to talk about.
  • In Santa Barbara coast graveyard south of the pier. Also, the burial plot should be near and overlooking the Pacific Ocean next to my kin. Though I may be cremated so a Viking funeral would be preferred from the shoreline instead. The ocean has always been my source of relation may be of interest that filled me with such an inner-peace that I said to myself, "I could die here." I have met people who like me have experienced near death. The one thing that comes up every time is our mind’s “peace” when the realization of death happening. We were all lying helplessly in a hospital and had few physical abilities. The ability we all had was our mind thinking and feeling peaceful, “if it’s time to go I’m ready.” The thoughts were all described with a peaceful aurora filling the brain too. This made our present & future locations meaningless. The strange part here is our will of living or dying became passive by this mental state. The good memories in life were recalled and seen; yet our life’s shortcomings were zilch. We also had no thoughts that persuaded a desire to live, just our lives’ beautiful moments being worthy enough for death. Many of life’s beauties were close to being my last thoughts. So you may mentally die at the places you listed.
  • Sidey, would you return the favor?
  • retank: The ticlio in Peru is almost 2000 feet higher than Mt. Evans, and also has the world's highest railroad station.
  • On second thoughts I'd like to be gunned down after executing the entire executive brance of the Republican party with a red hot poker and a pair of knitting needles.
  • But I don't recommend it as a place to die. A pic I took there.
  • ticlio in Peru,,hmm, i have friend from peru, something new to ask him about in Peru. I`m amazed he would want to come the US to work in a magnesium extrusion plant, but he says there is nothing to be had in Peru. I think he likes our toilet paper.
  • But they have Unix toilet paper there!
  • Barring accidental death early on, I've got two ideas. 1) I have always admired my grandfather's death. The day before he died, he was somehow compelled to go visit his sister, who lives in the house where he had been born 84 years before. He got there pretty late at night, ate supper, went to bed in the bed he was born in (we always used to joke about this -- he'd say, whenever he visited Doris, "I slept last night in the bed I was born in." "Well, I hope they changed the sheets!"). He got up in the morning, and smelled bacon and eggs and toast being made downstairs. He walked down the stairs, said "breakfast smells delicious!" -- and collapsed. Dead as soon as he hit the floor. Massive stroke, they said. Doesn't sound like a bad way to go -- a place one considers home, the smell of something being cooked for you first thing in the morning. 2) Since I will likely be nowhere near as lucky as my grandfather, the one thing I do not want is to die in a hospital or a hospice. I fully intend to be euthanized. My family is aware of this decision. Someone very, very important to me has said he'd do the injection for me. I hate hospitals, even when I know I'll be leaving them soon. I hate that humans give birth and die in these sterile, cold institutions, where both being born and dying is an everyday occurrence, something to be noted and filed away. As to where I would prefer to be euthanized, if I'm old and finally have the house with the ocean view I've wanted as long as I can remember, I'd want to be there, looking out the window, in bed with someone I loved and who knew that the human brain can still interpret touch and sound for a few minutes after you're considered "dead." Someone who wouldn't leave until I was well and truly gone, and who would support my decision completely. Since I intend to be old before this all happens, the whole laying-down-on-sand idea just strikes me as potentially painful. Give me a familiar bed with a beautiful view and that's good enough for me.
  • Mmm. Die. Place. Toughy. I've always thought about the how, not so much the where... The 'not very grown up' part of me wants to do the blaze-of-glory thing - at the foot of Nelsons Column (after having jumped off) or on the front grill of a Peterbilt truck hammering down Route 1 in Big Sur (after having rounded a blind bend, knee down at 200 mph on a piece of two wheeled Japanese rocketry), or at the wheel of a F1 car at Nürburgring or even on the surface of the moon. But let's face it none of those are very likely to actually happen. Its much more likely that I'll be wilting away in an unremarkable plastic clad bed with some tumor gnawing away at my sanity and my body in a sterile depressing hospimorgue somewhere, while those I love gaze at me through crocidile tears and a mock look of pity, tinged with 'hurry up and get on with it you old bastard, American Idol Season 27 is on tonite' in their eyes. hphhhh. How fucking depressing. SMT, keep yer terminal amnesiac musings to yerself. Anybody got any kittens?
  • I know I've told this story elsewhere on MoFi, but both my uncle and the story are dear to my heart. My Uncle John, aged 63 was diagnosed with advanced lung cancer (from asbestosis) in April last year and was given three months. He went into hospice care early in July and was sitting with my auntie playing chess in bed one night. They finished the game and he asked her if he could have a cuddle. She sat beside him and hugged him as he fell asleep, and he died a few minutes later in her arms.
  • Don't know what I will want to eat tomorrow, let alone know how I want to die. I suppose any way that's not too distressing for others.
  • Awesome post and comments, everyone! And as for me, I have no idea. Not anytime soon, I hope.
  • From a David Gerrold book: "In bed with a naked redhead on my ninety-second birthday. Shot by a jealous husband." That, or in a magnificent swordfight, over something distressingly honorable, but only if I get some good last words. NOT in a hospital! Contemplating some wonderful natural beauty would also be nice, if I would be allowed a quiet death.
  • Chyren, I've got an autographed copy of The Silver Eggheads which I've never read, picked up at a university library sale. Might go look for it now.
  • ... he tried at first to wave to his dear ones on shore, but in the rolling fog they has already lost their faces. Too tired even to choose between jumping and calling, somehow he felt absolved and free of his burdens, those mottoes stamped on his name-tag: conscience, ambition, and all that craving. He was content to lie down with the family ghosts in the slop of his cradle, buffeted by the storm, endlessly drifting. Peace! Peace! To be rocked by the Infinite! As if it didn't matter which way was home; as if he didn't know he loved the earth so much he wanted to stay forever. -- Stanley Kunitz, from "The Long Boat"
  • "I've got an autographed copy of The Silver Eggheads which I've never read, picked up at a university library sale." This would be something, if I was in that situation, that I would value extremely and would be highly interested in acquiring. In fact I would be quite prepared to pay a cheerful amount to obtain such an item.