Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Events Leading Up to My Death...

It’s become customary at wakes nowadays for families to display photo montages of the dearly departed. Before writing the manuscript for a book called Night Sky, it was my job to craft what is known as a "storyboard." I was only vaguely familiar with the concept and had never done anything like that before. To create this storyboard, I was asked to logically envision a pictorial unfurling of the subject matter, which in this instance was the solar system and universe at large. And since “one picture is worth a thousand words,” suffice it to say the storyboard trumped the text in importance.

The photos featured in wake settings are in essence life storyboards—visual aids propped up on easels throughout a room in a funeral parlor, which celebrate unique individuals' lives. So, have you given any thought to what you would want included on your storyboard? Why not prepare one for when your time comes? Look at it as akin to writing your own obituary. You can add to your storyboard, subtract from it, as the years pass by and your view of what is and was really important changes. Why, when you can do it yourself, let another being or beings reduce your life and times to a haphazardly edited pictorial journey? And one that often has to be thrown together on the fly.

Veteran newsman and anchor Howard K. Smith, one of Edward R. Murrow’s “boys,” published his memoirs in 1997. It was subtitled: “The Life of a Twentieth Century Reporter.” But it was the book's title—one of the best book titles ever in my opinion—that grabbed me: Events Leading Up to My Death. Whether you are eighteen, eighty, or somewhere in between, start piecing together your storyboard now. That is, images and keepsakes of events leading up to your death. Oh, by the way, as of this writing, Smith’s book is out of print and the author has shuffled off this mortal coil. Events Leading Up to My Death is, however, available from alternative sellers on Amazon: a used hardcover can be had for a penny, but a new paperback could cost you $65.24. Life in a nutshell….

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