This week I chose Tim Matson’s Round-Trip To Deadsville A Year in the Funeral Underground as a sort of way to pay homage to All Saints day, or Día de los Muertos. The book had been sitting on my shelf since thesis, a spur of the moment Half-Priced Books buy, so I figured the slim 145 page book was overdue for a reading.
I had some notes on a piece of paper attached to the book that read: We don’t live in a letting go culture. Taco Bell story. The things I can say with a straight face. These were things I intended on talking about with the book for the blog, but now the only one I can remember is the Taco Bell story.
But first a bit about the book, TM takes readers through a year in the Funeral Underground by interviewing a slew of people he somehow associates with death from A Coffin Maker, an Undertaker, an Astrologer, a Balloon Man, to The Abenaki in a way to quench his fear of dying. The chapters are short, to the point, and while I was reading I could literally hear this man’s voice. I only found myself straying once in the Astrologer chapter when she discussed his birth chart and talked about the planet Pluto. The book was published in 2000. All I could think about was does his chart still count if Pluto isn’t a planet anymore?
I didn’t have any expectations for this book, but when I was reading it, I was taking a lot of long walks with my elderly dog. This means I had to go slow, and stop, and look at things which gave me time to think more about the book an my experiences with death in general. I haven’t had the opportunity to talk to any Gravediggers or Screenwriters on the topic, but I did once talk to our insurance agent. Hence the Taco Bell story:
A few years ago, Husband and I were purchasing insurance and one policy that came up was life insurance. I was adamant that I didn’t want a funeral and didn’t care what happened to me when I died. The insurance man looked at me with a straight face and said, “So what do you want? To just send your ashes down the river in a Taco Bell cup and call it a day?”
Yeah. Pretty much.
I knew he was getting at costs and the realities of death, but my only reality that I found with reading this book and with walking the dog was that I don’t live enough. I mostly spend my days going though motions. My fear of death, face it we’re all a little afraid, is that I’m going to miss something. There is so much to miss. Sunsets. Laughter. I can’t imagine a time when I will be tired of living. Am I afraid enough to spend a year interviewing people about death? No. Interested enough to read about it? Yup.
When the time comes, just find a Taco Bell cup and a sunny evening to set me free, and know that I spent a lot of times walking an elderly dog, peering into the essence of what it means to live, die, and be human.