“He seemed bathed in golden sunlight…” Alright, not a bad opening line, obit or otherwise. If that is written about me… by someone else… gotta say…I’d feel I did something right. You would too, lemon.
Socrates apparently said “the unexamined life isn’t worth living.” Well, does that mean examining that sh*t as we go along, or… should examination be an afterthought while living with passion and vivacity? The former seems a little sterile, particularly after reading the obit of John Cooper Fitch. An argument could be made for a more visceral life…less examined, more felt. (In Socrates defense… he didn’t have the same opportunities as our boy John. Recall the earth…still flat in 400BC. Sooo, thinking about things while walking about in his robe/sandals was probably a hoot. Better than those poor saps dragging/stacking 5-ton rocks in a North African desert….ugh, hot, filthy, and exhausting. “Hey Asmad, can I get a pull off your Thermos? I’m so thirsty.”)
His name, John Cooper Fitch, seems yanked from the great American novel, like someone you’d’ve expected at Gatsby’s parties, running bulls with Hemingway. A family lineage of inventors… the steamboat, the wheeled plow, a brand of chewing gum. Pedigree. Rest on his laurels? Effffff that. He lived in Paris and Switzerland and a Villa in Italy. Does Italy have any non-Villa residences? (that’s rhetorical hilarity). He settled in his 19 room, 18thC ancestral house in Connecticut. Maaann, ancestral estates seem so neat.
Here’s a man who met the Duke of Windsor at a party while [both were] pissing on a bush. He hopped a freighter for Europe, found his way to London, fell in love with a ballet dancer, and lived with Communist intellectuals in grain barges on the Thames. What in the hell? It’s like Tropic of Cancer, but without the fleas and squalor. Just terrific. I mean, who likes squalor anyhow? Gross. My life reads… “played wiffleball, went to college, moved to DC, hungout some, worked in an office, moved all the way to California…to work in a different office, napped a bunch, skydived once.” This guy flew P-51 Mustangs in WWII, was a POW in Germany, raced cars in Argentina, set speed records at 70, and owned 15 patents (one for a hot-air balloon steering system. I’m sorry, what? A FRIGGIN STEERING SYSTEM…FOR HOT AIR BALLOONS!) His life is the actual Most Interesting Man in the World, not the one with the washed-up actor peddling beer on TV. My buddy Robb wondered aloud… “Is the world still young enough to allow for a true contestant? A barnstormer.” I wonder too. It was a different time, indeed, but reading about this Libyan Spring Break makes me think there’s a chance.
Granted, if everyone lived their lives like this… 1. Mr Cooper would be far less interesting, 2. the world would be pretty messy…. everyone just racing and ballooning and hopping trains and pissing where they please. That said, an occasional dose of the danger… allowing us a glimpse of … of… the possibility, sounds pretty nourishing. I know this obit made me feel more alive… feel like taking few more risks. And not just ducking out of work 15min early on Friday so I can see the latest Iron Man sequel, or eating at a new Indian Restaurant…but actually daring. It’s a fun thought… to take myself less seriously… and get out there.