I’d rather be good than popular. Ideally, I’d like to be both, but this is the real world I’m living in.
It doesn’t matter whether it’s my photography, my music, or my writing efforts — being “good” is the only motivation I require. The upside is that I, and I alone, get to define what “good” means. The down side is that I’m a mercilessly harsh critic — but that’s exactly how one gets to be gooder.
I’m not sure whether my passion to improve is what drives my existential obsessions, or whether it’s driven by them. But every now and then, I find myself mired in an exploration of the flip side of existence — non-existence. Don’t be alarmed; I’ve been thinking about my demise rather frequently for at least 40 years. I find a dash of nihilism really helps me cope with the rest of my day.
It also helps me see things in a different light. In this case, mixing thoughts of non-existence with thoughts of self improvement has revealed a flaw in my decision to trade away popularity for self-gooderization — specifically, its impact on my future Celebration of Life memorial service.
By eschewing popularity, I’ve guaranteed myself an embarrassingly sparse ceremony. Even worse, if I put in the effort needed to get truly good, I might fail to establish the quorum of friends necessary to have such a celebration at all.
So with this in mind, I started to wonder what my Celebration of Life might actually look like? Aside from its glaring lack of attendance, that is.
One obstacle to a successful service became immediately apparent — a significant paucity of photos of me beyond the age of 16. Teenage dorkiness doesn’t motivate one’s parents to snap off many shots. And I’m pretty certain, as an adult, no one ever looked at me and thought, “Gee, I’d sure like to have a photograph to remind me of this guy.”
Anyone who walks past my service’s open doorway, peers into the empty banquet room, and catches site of my “life in pictures” presentation will surely wonder, “What tragedy robbed such a young man of a life just beginning?” Undoubtedly confused by my seemingly anachronistic 1970’s fashion choices, I can imagine them shaking their heads in pity and saying, “Poor child must not have been right in the head. He’s in a better place now.”
Horrified by the realization that I would continue to be as misunderstood in death as I was in life, I decided I would need to either start taking selfies or hire a personal photographer. But the thought of resorting to selfies was at odds with my whole goodification process, while the very idea of having someone follow me around taking pictures seemed just a tiny bit narcissistic — even for me. Besides, such drastic action would only be for the benefit of passers by — it would have no effect on convincing anyone to actually attend my memorial.
Perhaps the bulk of the people who appreciate me enough to celebrate my death are the folks who don’t actually know me — like the people who read this blog. So I’m considering making my future Celebration of Life an online celebration. The benefits are numerous. It wouldn’t upset anyone’s busy schedule or interfere with their weekend plans. No man would need to don a suit, nor woman an elegant but simple dress. People could attend my Celebration of Life any time they wished, adorned only in their underwear and chowing down on a bowl of Fruit Loops — exactly as they greet the arrival of each new ULTRAsomething article. Plus, there will be photos-a-go-go. Sure, they won’t be photos of me, but they’ll be photos by me, which is what we’re ultimately celebrating here.
But how will the internet know I’m dead? And how will you know it’s time to celebrate that fact? Technology probably holds the key: Perhaps some sort of app that hooks into the heart rate monitor in my smart watch can detect when heart failure occurs, thus auto-generating a pre-written obituary and triggering de-encryption of my Celebration of Life web page, which I was clever enough to create and upload while still alive. Of course, this means I’ll need to start wearing a watch, but such is the sacrifice I must make for choosing good over popular.
My fear is that I might do something to trigger a “false positive.” What if it’s a hot day, and I decide not to wear my smart watch? I’m fairly certain it won’t detect my pulse from the charging tray on my night stand. The last thing I want is to have everyone start celebrating my death, only to have the party interrupted by an embarrassing tweet that says, “Oops. Smart watch snafu. Still alive. Sorry.” If that were to happen, no one’s ever going to celebrate my real death.
I don’t know. Obviously I’ve still got quite a few issues to work through, so I guess I should plan to stick around a bit longer. Besides, I’m nowhere near good enough to die yet.
©2019 grEGORy simpson
ABOUT THE PHOTOS:
For those who enjoy metaphors, this selection of photos is blatantly obvious. Probably just as obvious as identifying which photo(s) were shot with a Ricoh GR; an Olympus OM-D E-M1 w/17mm f1.2 lens; or a Minolta TC-1 on Tri-X would be for a camera nerd.
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