A Year in the Death 1/28/21
Here, in the home of the brave
And the land of the free
The first word that baby learns is “more”…
It’s a nation of noses pressed up against the glass
They’ve seen it on the TV
And they want it pretty fast
You spend your whole life
Just pilin’ it up there
You got stack and stacks and stacks
Then, Gabriel comes and taps you on the shoulder
But you don’t see no hearses with luggage racks
I’ve loved Don Henley’s “Gimme What You Got” ever since it was released on his “The End of the Innocence” album back in 1989. (I recommend the entire album. Many of the songs could have been written during the past four years.) In particular, the final line “But you don’t see no hearses with luggage racks” has always stuck with me.
It comes to mind on those rare occasions when I watch television and am subjected to insipid commercial after insipid commercial, trying to sell me shit I don’t want or need. It also comes to mind every “Black Friday” — that yearly orgy of consumerism and greed (at least until 2020, when the COVID-19 pandemic basically killed the concept) when grown adults push, shove, hit, and outright stampede over each other trying to fill the void in their souls with shiny new purchases. (SPOILER ALERT: They won’t fill it.)
And it definitely came to mind when I read the findings of a study first published in the journal Nature on December 9, 2020, which contained the following startling (and depressing) facts:
- Human-made mass, referred to as “anthropogenic mass,” has doubled roughly every 20 years and now exceeds all living biomass on Earth.
- On average, for each person on the globe, anthropogenic mass equal to more than his or her body weight is produced every week. [Emphasis added]
Let those stunning findings sink in for a moment.
Take a look at all the “anthropogenic mass” surrounding you.
Repeat after me: “But you don’t see no hearses with luggage racks.”
Then decide what you will do to unburden yourself from all that weight. It will be the most important diet you’ll ever go on.
This is part of a year-long series I’ve entitled “A Year in the Death.” As I discussed in my first entry on January 1, I am going to contemplate and write about death each day of 2021. Some days, my thoughts and writings may be detailed essays. On others, they may be little more than the contemplation of a quote about death or a piece of art representing death or dying. Also, I may not share every daily contemplation with you, reserving my thoughts to my private journal. But I am committed to the practice and invite you to follow along throughout the course of the year.