September 04, 2006

Dying While Doing What You Love Would Suck

What struck me about Steve "Croc Hunter" Irwin's death was his producer John Stainton's quote: "He died doing what he loved best and left this world in a happy and peaceful state of mind." Really. Happy and peaceful, while frantically and futilely trying to pull a poisonous sting ray barb out of his chest.

We often hear this sentiment about adventurers and daredevils when they die young: "He died doing what he loved best." As if that's a great thing. I think it is dead wrong.

Who would want to die doing what they love? That would negate all of the pleasure they had doing that thing their entire life. Would you really want your last memory to be the sheer terror of doing what you love and having it go horribly wrong? Would a pilot who loves flying, the feeling of freedom and soaring through the clouds with the birds, want to die in a plane crash? Would a race car driver who loves the thrill of speed want to hit a wall at 200 miles per hour and be trapped in a flaming wreck? Would a man whose biggest passion in life is his wife want to be murdered by her, or to die of a heart attack while strolling hand in hand in the park with her?

I want to die doing what I hate. I want to die preparing my taxes. Or scooping up a dog's poop. Sitting in traffic on the Beltway. On hold in voicemail hell with a computer company's customer service. I want to die fighting health insurance company Scrooges over a claim they refuse to pay.

The whole dying-while-doing-something-you-love idea is a crock, or in Steve Irwin's case, a croc. It is simply a way for those of us still living to feel better. It is a form of deep denial regarding the cruel irony of death. Kind of like religion.


At 9:53 AM, Blogger joelogon said...

I'm honestly not sure how I feel about this. On the one hand: Dead is dead, so I don't think it really matters much.

I also don't think that an unhappy ending nullifies the good things -- you can't take it with you, but they can't take that away from you.

I still think I would like to go out doing something I liked, rather than something I hated. Enough of our time is devoted to stuff we have to do, rather than what we want to do, so every little bit counts.

At the very least, it would reduce the chances of some of the more exotically brutal deaths (assuming one doesn't enjoy torture, flaying, or recreational crucifiction.) -- Joe

At 8:31 AM, Blogger Louis Trichardt said...

It's a mindless cliche that found its way on the Australian media scene in the early noughties. As if it's a consolation that someone died while engaging in a pleasurable activity.

'He was a crackhead who liked to get blown by hookers, which was what he was doing at the time... well, at least he died doing something he loved.'


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