One of the downsides of dying is that it can be like failing to find out whose hand gets asked in marriage in a romance novel or which of the semifinalists you have kept track of in a beauty pageant, horse race or ballgame will win. This may sound morbid, but sometimes while I am reading a gripping novel I pray that if I do have to die suddenly, let me at least get to the end of the story before I get to the end of my own. (Do you think like that too or is that just me?)
There are more personal stories people are afraid of missing out on, such as a grandchild’s wedding, a graduation, and so on. Then there are those matters, which differ from completing a crossword puzzle, seeing the outcome of a bet or missing a holiday, that are further out into the future. I will most probably have to content myself with not finding out if extraterrestrials exist or whether humankind will ever be able to transfer in a pinch to another planet, or whether the Beatles will endure as many centuries as Beethoven.
There is yet another kind of loss, and that is missing something or someone versus missing out on something or someone. Even though presumably the former is not possible once we are dead, we do and can anticipate such losses beforehand. Besides loved ones, this might include any ongoing part of our lives, such as appealing food, travel, uplifting music and so on.
I suppose what people would miss or miss out on depends on personality and priorities. How about we make this post a workshop and see? That is, to be on the honor roll, you have to participate! I will even go first so you can work up some courage: Besides friends and family, I think I would most miss being out and about in obedient nature (That is, I am fine with setting aside forceful winds, flooding and immoderate temperatures.); chocolate of course; writing posts and collections of stories; and satisfying my curiosity about other people’s life stories. As far as what I most probably will miss out on as opposed to missing, as I just mentioned, I wish I could know if there are extraterrestrials and what they would be like. What might their values be? What might they understand and not understand? What might we learn from them and them from us? (At least as a consolation prize, I can answer these in the fiction I am writing these days.) In general, I will miss out on whatever technological advances are in store for humankind, and how and whether worldwide problems such as mental illness will ever be eliminated or at least better managed.
As I started this post, I did not completely think through what I would list beforehand. This is the genuine deal. What I learned, and least anticipated listing, was writing. This makes me reflect on how valuable it has been in making my life an adventure through the interaction it has generated. I relish all the comments I have received on this blog, emails and Twitter for example, and of course all the feedback on my book.
Now it is your turn, in the comments below, to try out this exercise. You might find out something new about yourself. Not only that, you may become more aware of who and what is most important to spend time on now. And who knows? Perhaps seeing each others’ answers below may increase our awareness in unforeseen ways. Care to join in this experiment?
Announcement: The Angry Coffee Bean Café in North Arlington, NJ on 89 Ridge Road will present “The Spoken Word,” my writers’ group first public event. Eight writers (some published such as I) will read from various genres. The event starts at 6:30PM on Monday, November 10th.
My “how-to” guide to writing a eulogy got published in the LA Jewish Journal Oct. 15th: http://www.jewishjournal.com/expiredandinspired/item/biographer_for_a_day