Writing business

Jim O’Brien: With too much to do and not enough time to do it, we write our own epitaphs

Writing epitaphs is one of the quirky hobbies I pursue.

In the rare moments when I have nothing better to do with my time, I try to find a word, phrase, sentence or saying that might capture someone I know.

In the highly unlikely event that I had to compose one for my current spouse, I think it would go something like this: “I would love a cup of tea.” It’s his standard answer to the question “Can I get you something?” I guess it could be worse – she might be in the habit of asking for a yacht.

Composing epitaphs for GAA managers and players would be a very easy task these days. “Lookit”, “Sure lookit” or “Ah sure lookit” should be among a few words used to sum up their lives.

A man I knew was a great proponent of resilience in the face of life’s challenges. His signature response to the common ‘how are you’ greeting was, “Erra, I’m keeping it knackered”.

Surely that would have been a fitting epitaph for him. He used the phrase at every opportunity. He used it once when he was asked to say a few words at the Diamond Jubilee of the world’s smallest, frailest and most delicate nun, describing her as “a great woman to keep the course “.

The incongruous comes to mind – the fragile veiled lady was not someone you could imagine with a hurley in hand and, most certainly, you could not imagine her standing sadly in the lay-up area. dead what is a screaming goal mouth.

Humorous epitaphs are the best. There is something liberating about laughing in the face of eternal silence.

Mel Blanc, the actor who gave voice to cartoon characters such as Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck and Porky Pig, had the cartoon’s classic signature, “It’s All People” engraved on his tombstone. . For anyone with a hypochondriac friend or relative, comedian Spike Milligan’s epitaph is an eternal tonic: “I told you I was sick.”

Our lives create our epitaphs. There are words, phrases and feelings that can sum up our essence. Lately I’ve noticed people using speech patterns that capture the constraints and pressures that currently permeate everything.

Many modern phone calls are marked by short bursts of words and half-words such as “ya-ya-ya-ya-ya”, “good-good-good-good-good” and “OK-OK-OK- OK-OK”. ”. Like blank shots fired in volleys of five syllables, they are meant to keep you at bay without hurting you.

They get the message across — “say what you have to say and hang up”. If there’s any sign of a conversation lasting beyond the basics, phrases like “I’m a little under pressure here”, “I need to move” or “I need to catch up soon” will be deployed to bring things to order. a conclusion.

The current context of our lives is anything but rosy – we are in the final throes of a pandemic, a major war is raging on our continent and climate change is accelerating so rapidly that it will soon be beyond our capacity to bring him back. Tension and fragility, the kind of things that make you break out in a rash, are everywhere.

And I think there’s another factor at play – most people I talk to are overworked. They have too much to do and too little time to do it. During office hours, it can take forever for people to call and even when you do, their devices ring constantly as others try to reach them.

As a self-employed person, I always have a series of small projects in progress. I can find myself dealing with work problems at any time of the day or night. I often get up early to put the finishing touches on a piece of work and email it before I start something new.

Assuming the person it’s for won’t see it until 9 or 9:30 am, I hit “send” but more often than not a “ping” from the computer says it’s been received and opened. The hybrid model of working from home and in the office has made matters even worse. Now there are no borders.

It seems to me that people are being asked to do more and more all the time. At the same time, there is an aversion to hiring extra workers and as a result many are worked to the bone. Where do the fruits of this labor go? Who reaps the benefits of all this effort, toil and stress? Maybe we’re not supposed to think about these things.

May I suggest “Okay, OK, OK, OK, OK – catch up soon – bye, bye, bye, bye, bye”, as an epitaph for our times.