Monday, March 26, 2012

Impermanence: Why the End of "Six Feet Under" Still Pisses Me Off


I adored the show “Six Feet Under” which aired on HBO for 5 seasons from 2001 to 2005 but the final episode always irked me and depressed me. The final minutes sequence through the moments of all the characters’ lives in fast forward–6 minutes to be exact for the bulk of their lives to run through with a melancholy soundtrack of a single song.

I know it has been years since the airing of that final episode but every time I see it, it gets to me. And for some reason, I keep watching it every so often over the years–grasping at the heart-wrenching pace of those last few minutes, rewinding and watching it again. Saturday it happened to be on HBO again and I did the same thing.

Then it hit me–why the ending drives me crazy. Impermanence. The end of this series highlights the impermanence of all our lives, but, of course, namely, the impermanence of my life. Isn’t the story of our lives mostly if not completely about us. And the idea that I am a blip on the cosmic radar, is, well, a blow to me. Ego, narcissism and all the yucks in me flare up in repugnance at that final episode because in the catalog of history my life is 6 minutes if I’m lucky.

I have been working lately to make my life less about me–which is, not surprisingly, a very hard task. Even though I spend much of my life in an experience as therapist which is really not about me at all, it is still quite hard. This survivalist, Darwinistic, human nature in me wants to scrounge for every part of those 6 minutes to matter. But to make them matter in spite of me rather than for me, that is difficult.

Back to “Six Feet Under”and the finale. It is a clear decisive statement (soundtrack and all) that reminds us how short life is, and how everything we do is a blip on the radar. The impermanence of “me”, while initially (and for years now) maddening, at second glance is a ticket to “letting go”. If I can get it, really get it–my life is short, then that can be an entryway to letting go of myself, letting go of the moments of extreme pain (physical and emotional), and begin to understand in a reality-based way that, “this too, shall pass.”

And if I can begin to let go of the grasping, clawing, ego-driven me, then I can begin to see more God, make room for more God, and make space in myself for more than the “star of the show of my life.” Ahem, that’s me, in case you were wondering.

So, as I continue to struggle with the impermanence of myself, and trying to be a better more useful me in this short life I have, I thought I would insert the video that started this post and spurred my writing about this innate struggle. View, enjoy, and see how it makes you feel.


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