Attended my first Episcopalian funeral a couple of weeks ago…

My husband is Episcopalian but I am not. A bit of a mixed marriage. Will probably convert in the near future. Right now (and I’m sure part of this is because of my geeky nature), I enjoy being an observer. It’s interesting to compare and contrast what I see with what I experienced through my upbringing. Mostly, quite similar. Every now and again, there’s a difference.

Because my husband is an undertaker, I often hear descriptions of various services. The processional, songs, readings, prayers. That sort of thing. When he explains Episcopalian funerals, I am always fascinated by the concept of a pall. Every casket is covered so he speaks of it as the “great equalizer”.

Always just assumed the pall he referenced was dark, heavy, and velvety. Quite surprised, during the funeral I attended, to see this was not the case. The casket was transported to the front of the church draped in a light-colored, embroidered, linen-like covering. If I had seen this cloth in isolation, I don’t think I would have ever associated it with a funeral. I was moved by the idea that every casket would be handled in the same fashion.

We live in such a competitive society. People strive for an advantage. Some fight or even kill to get it. Some relish the thought of being “better than” equal. For what? The outcome is the same. Everyone will eventually die. You can’t talk or buy your way out of it. That pall reminded me of that. I attended the funeral of a good man who lived a good life. He will be missed. I can attempt to be a good person and live a good life. Hope that I also will be missed but in the end, I will also die. Everyone will eventually die.

Both the pall (and death in general) are great equalizers.

Posted in Death, Family, In my brain, Life, Mind & Spirit, Mortality, Personal. Comments Off on Attended my first Episcopalian funeral a couple of weeks ago…

Google Image Labeler – My newest little addiction

After making a post over on my other blog about finding medical images and videos, I received a comment with a link to the Google Image Labeler. The commenter (salohcin) included a warning about the addictive nature of the “game”. What an understatement!

How does it work?

From the Google site:

You’ll be randomly paired with a partner who’s online and using the feature. Over a 90-second period, you and your partner will be shown the same set of images and asked to provide as many labels as possible to describe each image you see. When your label matches your partner’s label, you’ll earn some points and move on to the next image until time runs out. After time expires, you can explore the images you’ve seen and the websites where those images were found. And we’ll show you the points you’ve earned throughout the session.

If you a little time to spare, check it out as well as salohcin’s site. Enjoy.

Posted in Eclectic, Geek, In my brain, Mind, Random Notes. Comments Off on Google Image Labeler – My newest little addiction

If you had an incurable disorder, would you want to know?

Several years ago, I took a course in Human Molecular Genetics. I enjoyed the technical “science-speak” (replication and mutation and such) but also relished in the ethical conversations. One such discussion centered around the following question:

If through genetic testing, it was discovered that you had a disorder with no cure or no viable treatment, would you want to know?

Fellow students took turns attempting to answer an inquiry that seemed so final. Most wanted to know. There was a desire to have the information to organize lives. Things had to be put in order. Loose ends tied. I listened intently, fascinated by this peek into the brains and souls of classmates. When all eyes finally fell upon me, I hesitated for a moment and began to communicate in slow, deliberate tones:

I would not want to know. Yes, there is a need to “organize a life” and to “tie loose ends” but I should be doing this anyway. I could leave this building, cross the street, and be hit by a bus. Death is a certainty whether today, tomorrow, or 50 years from now.

We (humanity) continue to put thing off. We lead disorganized lives and attempt to function within disorganized systems. Loose ends dangle, then tangle leading to more disorganization.

Would you really want to know the general time frame of your death? Would this cause you to significantly alter the course of your life? End your procrastination?

Posted in Death, In my brain, Life, Mind, Mind & Spirit, Mortality, Personal, Spirit. Comments Off on If you had an incurable disorder, would you want to know?

The story behind my 9/11 truth

If you are looking for something political or angry or exceptionally sad, I humbly ask that you move on. Those are all valid perspectives and I’m sure you will be able to find blog posts to suit what you seek. This is a discussion of personal discovery.

Backdrop: In August of 2001, I was fortunate enough to travel with a friend to the West Coast and see parts of the state of Washington (Ocean Shores and Friday Harbor both come to mind). Took in a little whale watching and even spent some time in Vancouver, BC. Everything was incredibly beautiful. The “better do this now before I’m chained to the lab” trip was right before I started graduate school.

Story: I was running late on 9/11. I know this because my same friend would normally drop me off at the subway station. He drove me to DC only if it seemed as though I wouldn’t make it to class on time. Jumping from the car, I scurried into the building and plopped down in a chair. Whew, on time again. After starting class, the professor was called away and left the room. I do remember him, at some point, indicating that we had to evacuate the building. Something about a plane hitting one of the Twin Towers in New York. Everyone gathered up tangibles and streamed outside into the courtyard. There we stood chattering, reminiscent of a childhood fire drill until some lone voice broke through with the message – just go home. Don’t stand here. Everything was canceled. Just go home.

The crowd (this wave of people) began to move. Slightly confused, I moved with it. Part washed down the escalator leading to the subway (Foggy Bottom for those familiar with the DC area). Today for me, that was not an option. My friend, my ride. How would I ever contact him? I had a cellphone but he did not. Looked at my watch. Figured he was probably more than an hour away. Purely out of instinct, I continued to move with the crowd. As my brain focused, I could hear one-sided phone conversations. One plane had hit. A second plane hit. This was not an accident. Possible other targets. It was starting to sink in. I traveled a few more steps until I reached a bench. Sat down because, in that moment, I honestly didn’t have any other place to go.

I stared at the moving wave of humanity. Felt no panic from them. Not even a tremendous amount of confusion. Simply that they were all just trying to get home. I looked to the sky in time to catch a glimpse of fighter jets screaming overhead. Was this it? The end of the world? The end of my little piece of it? The end of me? I sat several blocks from the White House thinking this could be it.

Thought of my parents and siblings. Oh, and my grandmother. I so loved Mama Dear. I thought of them all. Quickly came to the conclusion that it would be okay because they all knew that I loved them. Thought of my lovely summer trip and smiled. Thought about getting back into grad school and accomplishing that goal. All seemed so positive. Then I thought:

If it is truly my time to leave this earth, I am ready. I’m not encouraging it but I am prepared. Tomorrow is not promised. Sometimes, today isn’t. I am at peace.

I stared at the crowd again. Noticed it was thinning. Then, something familiar caught my eye. My ride, my friend. How did he find me so quickly? I walked to the car as if our meeting was somehow planned, opened the door, and climbed in. He spoke of not leaving DC that day. He had stayed in the city for breakfast, saw everything on TV at a diner, and rushed back for me. We quietly listened to radio reports and entered the highway to join another wave of humanity just trying to get home.

Five years later, I reflect on that day just as countless others. I am sure there will be moments of anger or sadness but I know I’ll always come back to my 9/11 truth:

Tomorrow is not promised. Show love to those around you TODAY. Wake up and treat each day as special. Promise to (think, feel, act) do better that day. Be at peace.

Tomorrow is not promised

That is why I’m here posting. I kept putting it off, telling myself I would write something tomorrow. Planned like the next day was a given. Assumed that my eyes would just “pop” open, I would get up, hang out at the other blog, and (with sufficient time) post to this one. Still struggling with that juggling act.

Some bloggers have a philosophy of not posting unless they have something significant to say. Think I fell into that trap. Analyzing everything and posting next to nothing. What is truly significant? I am learning on my other blog that just reading the thoughts of others is important. Several times there, I have hesitated writing something because I thought it sounded pretty crazy only to have it be a popular post. I will start doing that more here.

Must do better because tomorrow is not promised.

Posted in Blogging, Death, In my brain, Life, Mind & Spirit, Mortality, Personal, Random Notes. Comments Off on Tomorrow is not promised