Monday, 27 November 2017

Larry's Death Cafe

by Pat Sutherland

Larry's Death Cafe was a memorable event that attracted maximum participation. It combined the fun of a Water Story aboard Peccadillo with opportunities for deep thoughts and contemplation. What can be more profound and challenging than thoughts of death? 

Firstly we passed around the Talking Stick, a gift to Larry from some Native American friends. Possession of the stick confers the right to speak, ending with 'I have spoken', the response to which is a strong 'HO!' from the listeners. So we passed the stick, telling our stories and listening to others'. 

Then, as we chugged along, at Larry's prompting we asked ourselves a difficult question: when did we expect to die? As ever, there were some moving observations and the comforting fellow-feeling that tends to arise from sharing. Larry encouraged us to look inside of ourselves for those thoughts we mostly keep out of sight.

All this profound thinking was done to the clink of coffee cups and an excess of delicious cake. Some were brave enough to visit the prow for an envigorating blast of bitter wind; the cowards, myself chief among them, remained cosily inside. 

Larry's second prompt was 'On our journey towards death...' The variety of responses was proof if any were needed, of our diversity, our ability to look at life as through a kaleidoscope,each seeing a different pattern.

Later when I told friends about the Death Cafe, they wondered if this was the best means of staying cheerful. How wrong they were! There was as much laughter during our sail as on any other occasion, and I left feeling lighter. Death is the ultimate, purest certainty, one we often try to avoid. Staring him in the face is embolding, and there's always the chance that he'll be the first to look away.

Ironically, it was life enhancing to share our thoughts on the Grim Reaper: he sits easily with coffee and Victoria sponge. 

Thank you, Captain Bev and Larry. 

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