I just found out Kurt Vonnegut died. I have to admit that I never have read one of his novels. The movie version of his “Breakfast of Champions” which starred Bruce Willis was underrated in my mind, but it still didn’t push me to read him. I can’t explain why. I never got around to it. I did walk away from the movie with a nice quote however: “Until you’re dead, it’s all life.” As much as it is stating the obvious, it had meaning to me. I had endured the recent deaths of my brother and uncle, and actually watched them die before my eyes. It means enjoy it while you got it, as depressing as it gets at times.
Vonnegut knew the meaning of depression. His mother killed herself before he left for WWII. He attempted suicide in 1984, and (according to his AP obit) “later joked about how he botched the job.”
I later came upon interviews with Kurt and short pieces he had written reflecting on the current state of things. My state of mind certainly jives with his.
“Well,” says Vonnegut, “I just want to say that George W. Bush is the syphilis president.”
“The only difference between Bush and Hitler,” Vonnegut adds, “is that Hitler was elected.”
You gotta love it, well if you feel the same, or can simply appreciate an old man with a sense of humor.
That’s what is great about him. As depressing as things get or can be, he kept his keen sense of humor. You have to in order to survive. That’s been a philosophy of mine. There are so many funny moments in the sickest and saddest points of our lives. That’s how I got through them. It’s all about waiting to see what’s around the next corner, what other sick jokes are in store for us.
One that comes to mind is that as my brother was on his way out, into the abyss, there were folks with my family at the hospital. One was a religious fanatic co-worker of my father. She even brought a friend. They convinced the twenty or so of us to form a ring and join hands. They said their prayer, but then began speaking in tongues. Even though it was the lowest point in my life, I began laughing under my breath. Is that what Matt would have wanted? The speaking in tongues, not the laughing. I’m confident he was sharing a chuckle with me at that point, as he looked on from the hereafter. It’s things like that though that assist the treadmill of life. I knew that I should have stayed bawling knowing that Matt was gone, but I looked around at those that were bowing their heads sharing in our grief, thinking that it was ridiculous and that Matt would agree because for the most part, I knew him better than them.
Anyway, thanks for the lesson and the laughs Mr. Vonnegut. Maybe I’ll go buy one of your books now.