If I should die before I wake (a svithe)



It seems like we've been having earthquakes every week--one's big enough to feel--one's big enough to make you panic and realize you really haven't come up with a plan re: What-to-Do-When-the-House-Starts-Falling-Down-Around-You-as-You-Watch-The-Office, and, ergo, now you will die.

Fortunately, none of them have knocked the house down yet--in fact, Thursday's, a 4.2, was the biggest yet and you really had to concentrate to tell that the chandalier was wiggling.

Of course, when we decided to move to the East Bay, I knew that decision would prove fatal. The Big One, the much-fretted-about Hayward Quake, is due to go off any day now and, in so doing, will wipe out UC Berkeley, Mervyn's California HQ, and our house. Oakland and Hyward and San Lorenzo and Berkeley and Richmond will make New Orleans look merely dusty and no one will have been warned to evacuate by colorful Doppler imaging. Food will be scarce, riots will break out, rotting corpses will stink the air, packs of dogs will hunt down the survivors . . . .

In short, we're all going to die.


Not that death, in general, should be a big surprise. Such (death) is life. It's an important part of the definition.

You're going to die.

That's not a threat.

That's a promise.

It's just what it means to be alive.

This begs two questions:
    --What shall we do with the time that we have? and

    --What then?
Those are both perfect svithe material. Those are the questions religions are built on, battles are waged on, books are written on, nights are lost to, and dinners pushed aside for.

What then life?

Why for death?

And in the end--?

I am one man. Tallish. Slight of figure. Overgrown hair. Moderately ambitious. Possessor of one life of uncertain length. There is nothing outlandishly special about me as compared to you. We are the same:a fragile biology, a limited span of time, a limited number of tomorrows.

We make our own cocktails of hope and fear, planning and delaying, doing and stalling. Our lives are our own. To do with what we will. Or not. As we will.

We are the same. We choose our own answers, day by day, till the earthquake, and we are through.

And then?

Well, I have some opinions. But for now, let's focus on choosing to live.

last week's svithe


  1. You have made me quite depressed, not about dieing but that you are going to be gone and there will be no more svithes or witty comments on my blog.

    woe is me.

  2. Amen. And, being the weird sort of person that I am, I just have to say that earthquakes excite me. Not that I've been in many, but the few I have experienced were, for lack of a better word (and lack of knowledge at the time) cool.

  3. I can relate. We had a couple bad ones here (Hawaii) a few months ago. It's the first time I've ever been woken up because my bed was shaking! All of a sudden all those talks about 'being prepared come back.

    It really wakes you up as to how helpless we really are when the hand of God moves - especially if we're not as prepared as we wanted to be! (Who is?)

  4. To quote Shatner, "Live life, live life like you're gonna die. Because you're gonna. Maybe not today or even next year But before you know it you'll be saying "Is this all there was? What was all the fuss? Why did I bother?" Maybe you won't suffer maybe it's quick But you'll have time to think Why did I waste it? Why didn't I taste it? You'll have time...."

    Good times.
    'Cause you're gonna die