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Unusual Mortality Events

January 10, 2012

Read the other day an article about UMEs, that is, Unusual Mortality Events. This jargon was in reference to ringed seals washing ashore in Alaska, perhaps because of the Japanese tsunami of last spring.


While the jargon is amusing and annoying, I suppose it’s necessary so that the experts can talk about their expertise.

But it strikes me that our own deaths, the deaths of the salesmen and -women and common folks, whenever and wherever they occur, will be UMEs  to us. It doesn’t get routine for the individual. When that distinguished thing comes, as Henry James might have said, or extinguishing thing, our minds may well be clouded and unable to formulate a thought or word worth keeping.

(You see, we might die like Steve Jobs, who is supposed to have said, on expiring, “Wow! Oh wow! Oh wow!” Clearly not the last words of a poet, though he might have been prophesying something or about to give us the low-down.

Or we might die like Goethe, who, according to his hagiographers, said, at the moment of death, “More light! More light!” Detractors, or objective observers, claim he asked for his wife’s little paw.)

Should we fret and worry about our end? Some say this is morbid and wasteful. But being mindful of death, around us, in us, strikes me as being mindful. We are born out of nothing, and to nothing we will return.

Enjoy the journey, yes. The moment of now.


From → language, mortality

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