We had been engaged in one of those long existential debates, discussing life, death and the possibilities of what might come before and after. The debate had gone on for some time, discussion had gone deep and we had covered some serious stuff, including the changing perspective of the years, fuelled by my impending birthday and the universal fragility of life.
“You should make a video,” said my son.
For a moment, I was flattered, feeling that perhaps I had acquitted myself so well that he saw my thoughts as worthy of being shared. But that moment was a fleeting one… he took out his phone.
“But I’m a mess…” Vanity is universal when faced with a lens. Or that’s my excuse.
“Well, I’d rather you were sort of natural anyway…” It all clicked into place then. So much for flattery.
“You mean, for when I die?” My health may be a bit unstable at present, but I’m certainly not planning on dying at the moment. He had the decency to look a tad embarrassed.
“Well, yes… but don’t feel obliged to die anytime soon…”
“…I haven’t given you permission yet.” This is true. As he is both my son and my employer, such an extended leave of absence requires his approval and he has made his feelings quite clear on the matter.
By this time, the camera is running and I face the immortalising lens with no make-up, haystack hair and wearing my oldest clothes. We continue the debate, though in a far more lighthearted manner. Even so, it feels odd. Bad enough being recorded, which I dislike at the best of times, but to know you are being filmed as a memory for when you are dead is quite a strange feeling.
One of the things we had been discussing was the value of remembering that physical life is finite. It is a concept that must be taken from rather abstract idea we generally live with and transformed into a practical application. It is not a morbid or depressing perspective, as some might think, but is actually liberating as it shifts the focus from the transient to the eternal.
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