24 October 2011

If I Die Young

Like me, many of you read, or were at least introduced to Mark Twain's Tom Sawyer as a child. For me it brings back memories of grade school musicals about the subject and my intense fear of Sawyer's nemesis, "Injun Joe",--incidentally I just at this moment realized how racist it is that the main antagonist is a murderous, thieving, Native American, but that will have to be saved for a later post on my literary blog.

My point in referencing Tom Sawyer is because of a specific scene in the book. After running away from home, and encountering a series of unfortunate events, Tom and a few of his friends are assumed to have drowned in the river. A funeral is planned, and I don't remember how or why, but Tom ends up in the rafters of the church as the funeral is being conducted. He sets up and watches the events unfold as his Aunt Polly and various others mourn his loss, and is privileged to see himself through the raw, honest eyes of those who grieve him.

I've been thinking of this story, and honestly been envious. I have to admit that the thought of being able to hear what people thought of me, or seeing who was really moved and affected by my death is an enticing thought to me. Don't get me wrong, I have no plans to be taken out anytime soon unless God so allows, but I think its something to think about. What would people say at your funeral? Who would show up? Would anyone? I think, if somehow given the chance, most people would be curious to see what actually transpires in response to their death. Its some kind of transcendent human need to know that our life held meaning outside of ourselves. That's what I'm getting at. How is my life impacting others? And the things I say, and thoughts I share, do they have meaning that transcend myself, or would they be buried forever with me?

A penny for my thoughts,
Oh no, I'll sell 'em for a dollar.
They're worth so much more
After I'm a goner.
And maybe then you'll hear
The words that I've been singin'.
Funny when you're dead how
People start listenin'.

- excerpted from "If I Die Young" as sung by The Band Perry.

No comments: