Songs For My Funeral

Success is 90 percent preparation, or so the saying goes. And if there is one thing everyone really wants, and that is a successful funeral. Well I guess these days they are “celebrations” of life. So why not prepare?

So here are the songs that should go with my funeral, a macabre list if there ever was one.

“Point Me At The Sky”, Pink Floyd

Notes: I’d like my remains to be shot into outer space when I die, but that seems hard, so this song seems like a reasonable substitute.

Requiem, Mozart

Notes: No one is going to sit through Requiem at a funeral. It’s too damn long. But listening to Requiem is perhaps the best way I know to transcend your own existence.

Annie’s Song, John Denver

Notes: My childhood is falling asleep listening to my sister Cathy listening to the radio. She was John Denver’s littlest big fan. I cannot hear this song and not cry.

Unexplainable Stories, Cloud Cult

Notes: I guess there is a theme here of leaving this world. The more I know the less I’m knowing.

Fat Old Sun, Pink Floyd

Notes: “The sliver sound from a time so strange”

The songs that kept me whole

Mountain Goats, “Done Bleeding”
Mountain Goats, “Possum by Night”
Flaming Lips, “The Castle”
Daughter, “Youth”
Flaming Lips, “Listening to the Frogs with the Demon Eyes”
Mountain Goats, “Song for Dennis Brown”
Band of Horses, “Even Still”

Sentenced to Time

Maybe we’re victims of fate
Remember when we’d celebrate
We’d drink and get high until late
And now we’re all alone

Wedding bells ain’t gonna chime
With both of us guilty of crime
And both of us sentenced to time
And now we’re all alone

Protect Me From What I Want, Placebo

We are a compression of the events of our past light cone. How could we be anything else? If I were smarter, I would call this a holographic identity principle, and start a cult studying this idea (funding secured at Stanford and Harvard, for sure). When you fall in love, you bring all of your compressed past, and you get all the same.

The cliche is that “love is acceptance”. There is truth there, but also there can be abuse, an acceptance of bad behavior. And there can also be stagnation, acceptance can lead to complacency. Maybe it should be “love is embracing”. While I hold you we can become better together.

If we have free will, our compressed selves can choose their compression algorithm. And to choose love we have to embrace other’s compression algorithms. And if we are lucky, we wake up years later, with compressed selfs entwined.

I write this to remind myself that I need to be embraced, and that means, transitively, an embracing of all that I’ve embraced.

Shadows settle on the place, that you left.
Our minds are troubled by the emptiness.
Destroy the middle, it’s a waste of time.
From the perfect start to the finish line.

And if you’re still breathing, you’re the lucky ones.
‘Cause most of us are heaving through corrupted lungs.
Setting fire to our insides for fun
Collecting names of the lovers that went wrong
The lovers that went wrong.

Youth, Daughter

Done Bleeding

Recite the songs that kept me whole
On the day I hand over command control

Done Bleeding, Mountain Goats

This is the notebook that kept me whole:

In this notebook are lists and checkboxes. Scribbled notes to myself. Remember to call the pool people. Remember to call the IRS. Remember to file estate taxes. Remember to make sure the boy has new cloths for school. It is a record of structure when my very foundation had collapsed.

With grief comes a much smaller emotional gas tank. It takes little to fill me up and overflow, and the the engine gets flooded and the damn lawnmower won’t start no matter how many times I pull the rope. This notebook was where I could turn to empty the tank. There was structure, things to do!, draining out the emotions with progress!, and a sense of purpose in a world that had ripped away purpose.

Today I started back in this notebook. Another grief for a relationship gone to hibernation, I need my structure as the world collapses again around me. Welcome back Notebook. Apparently I’m not yet done bleeding.

I heard the Captain say

We’ve been searching for our whole lives.
And we have traveled through unexplainable stories.
Swear to God I fought the good fight,
always waiting for the coming of morning.
And I heard the Captain say, I heard the Captain say,
“The more I know, the less I’m knowing.”
And I heard the Captain say, I heard the Captain say,
“Activate your force-fields and just keep going…”

Unexplainable Stories, Cloud Cult

When I think about who I am, I often visualize the famous Powers of Ten video. I see a seething sea made of cells and atoms and molecules, dancing to the rhythm of the microscopic laws of physics. Layers upon layers of order, and chaos, emerging at every level as I zoom out. I don’t see a boundary, which is why I’m perhaps sympathetic to the words “wholeness” and “undivided”, though I admit to their laziness in describing a more complicated situation.

As a scientist, the more I learn about the universe, the more I understand how little I actually know. That’s a pretty good cliche of a statement, but I do find that there are people who feel the opposite. This is not to say that I know less, today, than I did years ago, it’s just that knowledge comes with an expansion of what you don’t know. As we cut the pie we find the filling as well as lines of crumble along the cut.

I’ve been thinking a lot about how this applies to other domains. In particular I’ve been wondering about how it applies to emotions and feelings. There is a way in which these feel like they differentiate themselves with time, and like knowledge, this means that while I can feel and have emotions I’ve never felt before, there are more boundaries and new emotions than I ever had before.

And with this comes a lot of thinking about control and shaping and morales. Is it better to put the pie back together, to fuse some pieces, or to keep cutting?