Disclaimer: Today’s posting deals with death, trash and the environment. The author takes no responsibility for sensitivity, ecological consequences or any food consumed while reading the blog. All that said, let’s move on….
I’m riding shotgun in a black Lexus SUV. I’m with too BFF’s and we are on our way to the funeral of a former colleague. The conversation turns to death. We share our collective procrastination about not dealing with our personal demise and what to do with our remains. Apparently for all three of us, what we decide, as the saying goes, remains to be seen (pun intended).
As the conversation evolves, my fellow passenger in the black Lexus SUV’s leather seat in the second row, expresses her concern about the burial count and the effect it may have on the environment. She contends that if too many of us continue to choose burial in the earth vs. cremation or some other form of disposal, we will face an eventual shortage of land for all the graves. At this very moment we are driving past one of those “Mount Trashmores.” You know, a landfill where over many years a gazillion truckloads of trash have been dumped and covered with dirt. Here now is a big mountain greenery whose pungent aromas attract flocks of birds and causes little kids to upchuck in passing cars.
Now, even though I am not in my thinking chair on the back patio at home…I still get to thinking in the black leather shotgun seat of the Lexus SUV in which my butt is currently planted. This issue of running out of land has intrigued me. Hmm, my mind is awhirl with images of coffins stacked high like containers at a cargo port. Then too, I see miles and miles of humongous trash trucks dumping their loads on the mountaintop. I ponder the overriding issue: what will happen to Earth because there are too many bodies or too much trash? Bodies? Trash? Which is the greater environmental threat?
Having grown up in the notorious hippy movement of the 1960s, anytime I sense a controversy about a social issue, I see protesters. I begin to visualize bands of hundreds of marching, chanting youth at every cemetery and funeral home in America. They are holding signs that say things like: “No More Graves” or “Stop the Burials!” and “Burn Baby Burn!” Meanwhile, they are all singing this rhythmic chorus over and over again: “All we are saying is give cremation a chance…”
We pass a McDonalds and my thoughts are interrupted with a sudden pang for a mocha frappe…but my quest for this cold elixir of chocolaty coffee is fleeting. I can’t help but notice all the Egg McMuffin wrappers strewn across the parking lot. My brain quickly recycles back to the issue at hand. Bodies? Trash?
I envision a long stomping line of protesters marching along the perimeter of the McDonalds parking lot and then through the drive-through lane. They hold signs, too, that say things likes: “McDonalds is Trashing America” and “Stash the Trash” and “Burn Baby Burn!” Meanwhile, coming down the street is a caravan of trash trucks with stubby cigars sticking out of the stubby lips of the stubby truck drivers. They are yelling at the protester: “Trash Makes America What It Is,” and “We Build Mountains” and “Burn baby…”
We arrive at the funeral. The BFF who is driving parks the black Lexus SUV and we proceed to the funeral service on foot. While listening to friends and relatives sort out the meaning of our colleague’s existence, not to mention sharing antidotes and singing a poignant song or two, my mind is adrift. I scan the crowd of about fifty people and I cannot but wonder what each of them will eventually do with their body. How will they choose to get rid of it. And too, I cannot help but imagine the amount of debris each one of these people will generate in their lifetime.
Bodies? Trash? This is a real conundrum. But then, perhaps because of the spirituality of the moment, an epiphany comes to me. It is, I surmise, an issue of packaging. Yep, packaging. It’s that simple. Either we give up coffins or forego paper and plastic. I am pleased with myself that I have solved the dilemma. It is now America’s decision to make!
We mingle with folks following the service and eventually the gathering dissipates. I call shotgun and reestablish my butt in the front leather passenger seat of the black Lexus SUV. This is a nice car. I want one. But first, I shall get a mocha frappe.