Saturday, July 28, 2007

He Died Doing What He Loved

It's a phrase common in obituaries: "He died doing what he loved."

Not to pick on any particular person or occupation, but it's often said of sports figures, daredevils, and soldiers.

As if dying while doing something you love is somehow noble, or at least admirable.

No disrespect, but that's total hooey.

Anyone who dies of a drug overdose "died doing what he loved." A psycho sniper shot down in mid-rampage "died doing what he loved." Suicide bombers "die doing what they love." Mohammad Atta "died doing what he loved."

If you die while doing something careless, stupid, or downright immoral, whether or not you loved that thing doesn't make it any less careless, stupid, or immoral. And if you don't die from it, the fact that you loved it still doesn't change things.

Perhaps we are conditioned to believe that "doing what you love" is basically a good thing, and that takes some of the sting out of death. And in some cosmic sense, maybe dying while doing something you love is better than dying while doing something you hate (but we also speak of death coming as a blessed release from pain, so perhaps not...)

Or maybe, when contemplating death, we are desperate to find something...anything...positive to say.

Personally, I think I'd rather be remembered with the words, "She lived doing what she loved. And it was something worthwhile."


The Ivory Madonna's story is told in Dance for the Ivory Madonna by Don Sakers.