Reading Obituaries

Here’s the thing about life: people are always arriving to it and departing from it.

Every moment of every hour of every day. And in between arrival and departure, some pretty amazing stuff happens.

Which brings me to why I love obituaries: in your average obituary, as many obituary writers will tell you, the death is just a few words. The rest of the story is how a person lived out that pretty amazing stuff in between.

There was the actor who voiced the Lucky Charms Leprechaun and also did theater with Orson Welles. The classically trained sculptor from Worcester who invented the plastic lawn flamingo.

The community college dean who excelled at building houses after hurricanes and had a lifelong love affair with deviled eggs. The man who, in an effort to please his mother, gave up being a pirate to manage a mink farm.

It’s a whole lot of living stuffed into the moments and hours and days of our existence.

So, when I am feeling bleak or uninspired or cynical, I read obituaries. Lots and lots and lots of them. Because there in the death section of any newspaper is all this evidence of human life. Which can’t help but remind me of how I want to live.

And of the pretty amazing stuff that can happen between our arrival and our departure.

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