Sunday, February 2, 2014

Lessons from building your own coffin

I have incurable Stage 4 prostate cancer... As we used to say in the medical business, I’m starting to circle the drain.

Yes, but why build your own coffin? ... The idea came to me at the funeral of an 18-year-old boy. ... Creating something of beauty and purpose would be both a celebration of life and an acceptance of my death. ...

I knew immediately whom to contact: Peter, a beautifully untethered soul and a talented artist who works in wood. ...

We’d made a stunningly beautiful pine box, and a stunningly beautiful friendship. But we knew that neither could last, and that this was the very reason to celebrate them.

Something else has happened, too. The project has smoothed the rough edges of my thoughts. It’s pretty much impossible to feel anger at someone for driving too slowly in front of you in traffic when you’ve just come from sanding your own coffin. Coveting material objects, holding on to old grudges, failing to pause and see the grace in strangers — all equally foolish. While the coffin is indeed a reminder of what awaits us all, its true message is to live every moment to its greatest potential.