Michael Garfield – How To Live in the Future: The Soundtrack To Your Funeral, Part VI: Takin' Life So Serious

25 March 2008

The Soundtrack To Your Funeral, Part VI: Takin' Life So Serious

(Image from roadkilltshirts.com.)

As I've said before, the soundtrack to your funeral is as personal a playlist as you'll ever make. Assuming you have the luxury of deciding what to play to your mourning crowd (and assuming that you have the luxury of a mourning crowd), the funeral playlist is your final opportunity to give a life-affirming message that helps people deal with their grief and conveys the sum of your wisdom in a personal voice.

If it's not clear already, I take this responsibility very seriously. But then, I take everything very seriously. I was born under a Capricorn Sun (on 8 January, same day as Elvis Presley, David Bowie, and Stephen Hawking), and have recently come to appreciate the full significance of this: Capricorn is ruled by Saturn (aka Kronos), the god-devouring Lord of Time and the home planet for intense gravity of both metaphorical and literal varieties. Capricorns are saturnine, heavy, pragmatic, associated with bones and the skeleton, earthiness and history.

And so it comes as only a little surprise that I became a paleontologist, only to shift my attentions to the study of time itself. Little surprise that I was so deeply drawn to Boulder, Colorado, where I now live in the shade at the foothills of the Flatirons and play in a band called Ethereal Underground. Little surprise that I paint bones and eruptions, that I've abandoned the notion of delusion in favor of "practical versus unpractical realities," and spend so much time thinking about the unconscious as if it were geological strata.

Little surprise that many people can't tell when I'm joking, and that I can't tell when they are joking, either. I experience my own feminine compassion as an expanse of drought-cracked and fire-tempered clay, stoic and willing to soak up the spilt blood of human suffering in an ancient, patient embrace. Even my jubilance comes wrapped in rough gauze, a romantic appreciation of the grinning skull, a stealing of each moment's blooming flesh from the bare jaws of transience. Historically, astrological Saturn presides over the 1st House (incarnation) and the 8th House (death): gravity and graves, you know.

And therein lies the incentive for me to make sure that one song in particular is not left out of my funeral playlist, Ash Grunwald's "Serious."

Ash Grunwald - "Serious"

Now, sometimes I act like a fool
With those dark clouds and worries inside
When we live small lives that are way too short
And don't need no reason why

We've gotta stop takin' life so serious
Stop takin' life so serious
Stop takin' life so serious
You don't even know what you have

Sometimes I worry about the future
Are we ever going to find our way?
I don't even realize that we're living in the Good Old Days

I told you, stop takin' life so serious
You don't even know what you have

And your mind can get stuck just like Ararat*
Dangled carrot of desire in your head
Now your heart feels just like a bowling ball
Have you listened to a word I said?

I told you, stop takin' life so serious
Stop takin' life so serious
Stop takin' life so serious
You don't even know what you have


(*I'm not entirely sure that this is what he says, but it makes sense.)

I refuse to accept the assertion that we can only appreciate what we have when it's gone. I have in vivid memory a thousand moments of lightness that pull me out of my well again and again, reminding me that this is just as much "it" as anything else.

If I really do have an opportunity to make a difference in the lives of those who survive me, I hope it's by lightening their hearts. I hope it's by shaking them with the urgency and intensity of my good humor, shaking them out of their time-wasting sad sack nonsense into a larger perspective that floats in the vastness of our world and cannot help but respond to it with play.

And what better way than with a riotous uptempo slide guitar song growled out by a man named Ash? There's something in this about fighting fire with fire, the irony of such a bouyant message coming in the form of such a stern declaration. It appeals to my saturnine self, striving for something sillier. It speaks to my inner fool. It jumps on the bed until I bolt upright laughing, half indignant and half hilarious with surprise.

And it rocks. Which pleases me, of course, being an Earth sign and all.

(Written for iggli.com.)