My California Drivers license has a pink dot at the bottom.
This means that if something happens to me — something sudden and terrible, or something expected and terrible, I want my organs taken out of me and given to someone else.
Actually, let me rephrase: This means that WHEN something happens to me I want my organs taken out of me and given to someone else.
As soon as we’re born we start dying — sure, if you look at it one way, it’s depressing, but I choose to look at it another: We have the gift of time and so long as there’s life in us, we can do something with it.
For me, that involves having kids and writing and drinking scotch and talking to strangers and falling in love and taking pictures and speaking up when it’s important and shutting up when it’s important, too. It involves one more cup of coffee and feeling sand between my toes and hiking in the desert and dreaming of vast places I want to go. It involves going to these places, too — getting on planes and doing the things that scare me, and seeing the people that matter most.
Living life as a collection of experiences is how I roll — but I DO think about what happens after.
I don’t know what’s the deal with the soul — (although I’m pretty sure Hell is a carnival in Israel in the middle of summer with too many bouncy castles, waaay too much popcorn and cotton candy, and NO BEER!) -Maybe we’re reborn somehow to work out past mistakes. Maybe we float around the world somehow as a collection of energetic particles. Or maybe nothing. Just… that long, long sleep.
Last year I had surgery — it was nothing, but I was OUT, man. Like totally out. One minute I’m screaming to the anesthesiologist that it feels like fire ants are eating my face and an elephant is…. and then, I woke up and it was over. Two doctors were rooting around my body, and I didn’t feel ANYTHING.
I simply wasn’t there.
I asked the doctor “where did I go?”
“You were asleep.”
I asked my father “where did I go?”
“You were asleep.”
I asked a rabbi “where did I go?”
“Ahh,” he said. “Now THATS a good question.”
So maybe that’s death.
But I have no idea.
When my mother still had strength to get out of bed during the last weeks of her life, she used to quote Peter Pan, and she would say “Death is the next great adventure.” She would sip her coffee and smoke a cigarette and look at the tight fisted roses outside the window. “I hope I see them bloom before I die,” she said.
The day after they bloomed, she died.
I’m still hoping she’ll come back and tell me what’s the deal with death, because I STILL don’t know what happens After. Maybe we go somewhere. Maybe we’re born again. What I do know for sure is the body we have decays and turns to dust.
No matter what happens we cannot take our bodies with us.
And what a waste of a perfectly good body.
So that’s why I have the pink dot on my drivers license. That’s why I’m an organ donor. That’s why I want what’s salvageable taken out and given to someone else — maybe a young mom with a heart defect. Maybe a guy with kidney disease. Maybe a kid who has a liver that doesn’t work. I don’t care who gets it so long as someone gets it.
I don’t know if there’s life after death. But I know we don’t need our bodies if there is. And by giving someone else another shot at life, part of us can live through them as well.
And I can’t imagine a better way to go.
For more on organ donation in Israel, please visit the website of Israel’s National Transplant Center.
Also, you should see this video: