Here Lies Someone Serious

By Jeffrey Pillow on April 18, 2019 — 3 mins read

I was thinking about death recently. Not because I’m morbid. I just think about death sometimes. It gives me perspective on life and living.

The ancient Stoics believed that to live one’s life to the fullest contemplating death was necessary. Thinking forward to the great end allows you to live more in the now and to appreciate what is before you we often take for granted — your family, your friends, your health. One day, it will all be gone.

In thinking about my death, I turned to my tombstone. Pretty much everybody gets an inscription of some sort. Your name, the day you were born, a hyphen, your expiration date, who your spouse was, your kids’ names, etc. Some get a nice little quote that sums up their life or reflects their once lived philosophy during their stay on the land of the living.

How terrible would it be for your inscription to read:

HERE LIES SOMEONE SERIOUS

Pretty terrible.

There’s a quote, handwritten in black magic marker on the wall of my workshop where I do most of my writing. The author of the quote is Elbert Hubbard, American anarchist, author, and publisher. It reads:

“Don’t take life too seriously. You’ll never make it out alive.”

That’s sort of my life motto.

Philosopher Alan Watts once wrote, “Man suffers only because he takes seriously what the gods made for fun.”

Pretty much every girl I ever dated over the course of my life said at one point in time some variation of the following:

“You’re never serious.”
“You don’t take anything seriously.”
“You joke around too much.”
“Do you ever take anything seriously?”

My response was often, “If it’s cancer or death, I’ll be serious. Until then, yes, your assessment is mostly accurate.”

Have you ever seen me serious? It happens entirely too much nowadays that I’m older and a parent, and it’s just not working well for me. Not my style.

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To quote Charles Barkley, “It’s turrible.”

I have to be serious most of the time at work. Occasionally, while on a conference call or other such meeting, I’ll not be serious for a split second and crack a joke that catches my other serious co-workers off-guard. You’d think I put a whoopee cushion in someone’s chair prior to a leadership meeting. Note to self: This is an excellent idea that should be pursued in the near future.

You’d much rather be around me when I’m laughing. When I’m laughing, my anxiety is at bay. When I’m serious, my anxiety is often at the forefront.

When you’re a kid, it’s acceptable to be silly. It comes with the territory. As you get older, other older people want you to be more serious. Being serious is a sign of maturity.

Turn down the music. Stop playing air drums on the steering wheel of your car. Sit still. Be serious. This isn’t the time or place.

Well, that’s pretty boring in my opinion. I’ve tried it and I don’t like it. As a parent, I’ve come to find it’s not a good approach for me either. This is rooted in the fact I don’t respond well to authority, and my kids don’t either, so me being viewed as an authority figure is counterintuitive. It’s taken me a few years to realize this.

I’m turning my music back up. If you don’t know the music of legendary D.C. punk band Bad Brains, you will now.

Poet-philosopher Ralph Waldo Emerson once said, “Most of the shadows of this life are caused by standing in one’s own sunshine.”

Are you standing in your own sunshine?

Will your tombstone read Here lies someone serious?

There’s still time to change that.

P.S. I want a pizza party at my funeral because I really enjoy pizza, especially pepperoni pizza.

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Posted in: Personal Musings

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  • I needed this to start my day. I find myself too serious too often and don’t realize it in the moment.

  • I enjoyed reading the perspective you give. It is a good reminder to live more lightly in our walk each day. Peace to you.

  • Enjoyed. Note to self. Life is too short to be so serious. Plan. Follow this pearl of wisdom.

  • Bad Brains/CBGB, nice! Did you read “No One Here Gets Out Alive”? I did when I was 13. Jim Morrison was a real jerk but I thought he was a God then. I love many of Elbert Hubbard’s views and own an antique collection of his writings but I’m not sure he is the true originator of that quote. I do know that much of his writing and musings are quite serious!