If anything should ever happen to me (in an untimely fashion that is, where “timely” is defined as, I don’t know, 77 years old?) I’d like somebody to deliver the following address at my funeral.
Dressed in an Abraham Lincoln costume.
With the beard and the hat.
No, I’m not kidding.
And don’t worry, I’m not writing this because I have any reason to believe I’m about to be de-fashioned in an untimely way. (Although I do have an MRI on Thursday. Crossing fingers, toes, and all other swinging appendages.)
I’m writing this because I wrote it, on my cell phone, in the dark of a movie theater after I watched “Lincoln.”
I was inspired by the soaring oratory of Spielberg-Kushner-Daniel-Day-Lincoln. And was wondering why no one ever talks like that in normal everyday life. Wondering why you’re expected to not be extremely articulate or particularly moving unless you’re on a podium or in front of a casket. Or staring down the barrel of a gun.
I guess I am, in a sense, staring down the barrel of a gun. Lucky for me that I have this blog to serve as an e-podium, otherwise I’d sound like a weirdo just walking down the street with a friend and offhandedly saying the following in a high-register Lincoln voice:
We work to conquer or circumvent these moments of fear, these times of terror and despair and lack of hope, so that we may enjoy each other and this thing called “life” in all its wonder and its glory… and not in its pain.
What else can we do or should we do but work to facilitate love, and smiling and laughing and joy. Because the way to conquer fear and sadness is to replace them with hope, and with happiness; and while we wish this would happen freely and come to us like a gust of grace in the wind, sometimes it takes work.
The good news, friend, is that this is not something that is out of our control– in fact it is completely and very much up to us whether we choose to look forward, or to look down, or to turn away in fear.
For just as we can make the decision to stop and appreciate the smell of a flower or the beauty of a newborn baby, so can we choose to look fear in the eyes and say:
“This is not your time. You will not hold sway over me now.”
And we can do this with the confidence that comes from knowing one thing: that the world will always be filled with beauty and wonder and hope, so long as we are willing to find it, to let it find us, and to accept it, always, with open arms.
Charles Phillip Peacock Jr.
(For the record, I would not be against having Daniel Day Lewis there to read this in the Lincoln costume.)