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Wednesday, January 5, 2022

Microstory 1793: Conversion

I don’t want to talk about the final moments of my life. They aren’t important. I have always felt that way; not about myself, of course, but others. Death is a scary topic that I don’t like to think about. My best friend growing up was fascinated with it. He liked to read about real serial killers, and fiction that was specifically about murder and mayhem. He owned one book about crazy freak accidents, and another that listed famous people’s famous last words. He started to write a book of his own once, combining these two concepts. It was all made up, and it wasn’t very good, but he was a child, so that’s not surprising. It’s what drove us apart. I didn’t like thinking about all that violence and sadness. I didn’t hate him for it, but the older you get, the more important it is to find people you have things in common with. We were just too different. Years later, I found out that he had rewritten that book as an adult; transformed it into something decent and marketable. I didn’t read the signed copy he sent me. It wasn’t just signed, he also wrote a personalized note, saying how much he treasured those few years we spent as friends. He hoped to reconnect at some point, but I never reached out. Again, I didn’t dislike him, but you know how it is. We both had our own lives. Now he’s the only one with a life, and mine’s ending. Man, it’s hard not to think about it when you’re dying, isn’t it? No. Life. What about my life? Well, after we drifted apart, I started getting more interested in music. I didn’t create it myself, though. I couldn’t play worth a darn, and I could clear the room in ten seconds flat if I tried to sing. I just loved the culture. I liked to get backstage passes, and I wanted to learn how the lighting system worked. I liked to see the performers when they weren’t performing yet. I didn’t care for the drugs, though, so I knew that I could never be a roadie.

I ended up getting a job as a conversion crew member at a large performance and event venue. Different bands and events needed the layout to be particular to them. I moved chairs, and stages, and booths, and everything you can think of, to make a unique experience for each of our clients. It was hard work, but I got a great workout everyday, and I enjoyed it a lot more than some of my co-workers did. The pay wasn’t the best, but it was above minimum wage, and my wife made more than enough to support the family. She was the best pediatrician in the state, and she never made me feel bad about having no ambition. I would occasionally get free tickets too, so that was a perk she would never be able to compete with. We had two daughters. One moved up to become the editor of a well-respected magazine, and the other is a foreman for a construction crew. I couldn’t be prouder of both of them. We all took it hard when their mother died. I could barely take myself to work in the morning. What was I going to do without her? Suddenly, as if sensing my pain, my old friend called, and told me he was looking into doing a major presentation for his new book in the area, and he remembered what I did for a living. I helped set up the deal, and he obviously gave us free tickets. We watched him talk to the audience from backstage, and I felt something change in me. I started to see where he was coming from, and why he was so intrigued by the idea of death. He was so good at explaining how crucial accepting death is to helping us lead full and healthy lives. I read his books in one week, and became a convert. Now, as I lie here on the pavement, blood oozing from my head, I’m comforted by the fact that I was happy.

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