"You are far too pessimistic." A friend says to me.
"I am a realist with pessimistic tendencies," I reply.
"No you are a depressed pessimist with psychotic tendencies, which means you have a negative view of the world and yourself and you scare me sometimes." He stoops and picks up a leaf. "To me this is a pretty orange and gold leaf. This reminds me that it is autumn and the holidays are coming up. What do you see?"
"I see you holding a dead thing, in fact a fine symbol of death."
"It is meant to die. To a tree this is like losing a fingernail, you wouldn't mourn the loss of a fingernail."
"It is the tree's only outward expression of it being alive," I tell him. "From a certain perspective, the leaf, is the only difference between a live tree and a dead one. Without leaves, a tree is either dead or in state so closely resembling death that you would have to cut it open to tell which."
"I suppose so." he says,"You seem a little fixated on death today are you feeling alright?"
"I am fine, you just mentioned the holidays and it made me think of our celebrations of death."
"Ok, I will bite," he said. "Where does death fit into any of our celebrations?"
"You can see death all around us, in fact, death gives texture to our lives. Consider it similar to how an artist will use shading to bring out the colors in a picture. It does not take much to see how death figures in many of our holidays. Presidents Day for instance, we only really honor dead presidents, we don't celebrate the living ones. These we ridicule at best and at worst we heap scorn and hatred upon them. As a nation we haven't really liked a sitting president since JFK and he died before we could start properly hating him."
Twirling the leaf in his hand with a grin on his face, he asks "Well, tell me, where is the death in Arbor Day?"
"Arbor Day, easy. I sit at my mahogany desk which rests upon my Cherry hardwood floors, in my pine framed home watching the fireplace roar and thank God we can still kill trees with impunity. Don't give me that look hypocrite. I have seen your house. I say keep planting these wonderful trees, I need them so I can read my morning paper and blow my nose. We pretend Arbor day is all about how nice and pretty trees are, but really we like them dead and hacked to pieces. Tell me, what is the first thing an Eskimo would do if a giant redwood sprung up next to his igloo?"
"Hang up his laundry?" He smiles and asks "So how about St Patrick's Day?"
"You mean besides the DUI related deaths?" I ask. "I have heard you use the terms "drink yourself to death " or "drink yourself to oblivion" to me a couple of times. In a very real sense alcohol is a poison. On St Patty's Day people purposely ingest very high dosages and the next morning what do they say? I feel like I have been hit by a truck, my mouth taste like death etc."
Tossing the leaf aside he says, "That's kinda weak. If you can show me the death in Christmas I will give you ten dollars."
"Simple. The ONLY reason we celebrate the birth of Christ is because of how and why he died! It is not because of any miracles that he performed. Others, before and after, performed similar miracles yet they don't get a big day. "For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son..." Jesus, The Lamb Of God, in this case the sacrificial lamb. That will be 10 dollars."
"Fine Mister Negative. What do you have against New Years?"
"New Years Day and Birthdays are not actually celebrated by too many people after the age of 35. Why? Because we are forced into the realization, by these arbitrary days, that life is slowly draining from you like sand trickling down the wall of the hour glass. Though you may have a party thrown to celebrate your birth, or go to a New Year's eve party, inside you know it's one more year slipping away. I know many people who refuse to celebrate either event and proclaim out loud that it is just another day. These same people thought it was fun at 25."
I pick up the leaf and say "I could go on you know. Easter, too easy, Jesus gets nailed to a cross and gets raised from the dead. Memorial Day, we are suppose to remember those that died in war. Thanksgiving, death to turkeys or Native American culture, take your pick. Valentine's Day, death to freedom. The best is Halloween. The pageantry and the symbolism, are not very subtle. Yes there are girls dressing up like the latest Disney Heroine and buffoons that think dressing up like a girl is clever. But every other kid carries a sword or gun or battle axe. As a boy you are either a killer or a killer of killers."
"That is just the children," I continue, slowly crushing the leaf in my hand. "Adults not only drape their own bodies with the trappings of death but their homes as well. Skeletons, stray eyeballs, a beating heart and other various body parts are only the beginning of the decorations of death. We then ritualistically sacrifice pumpkins, mutilating and disfiguring their bodies with our largest knives just for the fun of it. Having scooped out their guts we commence to make a pie out of their innards. Then we adorn our windows or porches with their corpses."
"You are far too pessimistic." A friend says to me a second time.
Peter Meredith is Vice President of sales and marketing of Light Energy Designs
. His usual writing focus is on energy efficient lighting but sometimes the pen takes him elsewhere. All of his articles can be read on his blog