Truth is, New Job is quite difficult to talk about. Partly because I'm bound by law to not discuss individual cases, so I can't tell you what I did last night, and partly because I'm so busy processing the information myself, I'm not sure I could discuss it even were I at liberty to do so.
Which might give you some idea of how confronting it really is. Having said that, I also think that it's the kind of job that everyone should have some experience of. I CAN'T BELIEVE how carefully we hide death from ourselves in this country. The lengths we go to at work to keep what amounts to the Simple Truth from the General Public border The Absurd. And I wonder how much this contributes to what I see as an inherent shallowness, certainly in Australian Society, a reluctance to tackle subjects of substance, a preference for the mediocre, the trivial and the inane. How much can you possibly expect to understand about the miraculousness and profundity of Life if you're afraid to look Death in the face?
So, those people who are waiting with bated breath for gory details - you know who you are - are just going to have to content themselves with philosophical platitudes and random musings on the meaning of Life, The Universe and Everything from the perspective of one who works in the constant presence of Death. I can't tell you what I did at work, but I can tell you how I feel and what I think about it.
Right now, apart from feeling shatteredly tired, and decidedly whoopy most of the time, the good news is that I'm so acutely aware of my own mortality 24/7, and so astonished that I manage to wake up alive every morning, that a simple breakfast of hot cross buns, or a cursory examination of my budding vegie garden is likely to put me in a state of wonder. Appreciation of the gift that is my daughter (which has always been intense, anyway) has taken on new and dizzying heights of gratitude. The dog jumping on my bed and waking me with big meat-scented kisses in the morning is not only less annoying than it used to be (though any smell other than meat would be preferable), but actually makes me laugh (despite the sheet-washing that will inevitably ensue), inter-species devotion being a source of considerable amazement to me at the best of times.
Because we're all going to die, dudes - you, me, and everything living under the sun. It's not morbid, it's the Way of Things. You can hide from this fact, immersing yourself in yet another season of Australia's Next Top Model or AFL football, you can work yourself into the ground trying to pay off your mortgage, you can squirrel away your money for the future so you feel more secure, or shop till you drop. You can keep so busy distracting yourself that you never think about it, but it makes not a jot of difference. Die you will, sooner or later, in 50 years time or maybe this afternoon - you just don't know - and every minute you spend hiding this fact from yourself you lose the opportunity to appreciate just how amazing it is that you're here, thinking, feeling, experiencing anything at all. God knows, Life is short enough.
And I have to tell you, Death isn't as scary as you might think. Death is simply Absence of Life, and to witness it is to understand that we exist within our bodies, but are not of them. It's the way in which this simple fact blows away all the trivialites of our daily lives that we insist on hiding behind, exposing the essential truth that we are here, right now, in this second, and isn't it Just Fucking Mindblowing that messes with your head, and has you re-evaluating every last corner of your everyday life. Just ask someone who's recently had a Near Death Experience.
So, as long as I'm doing this work - maybe for a week (I could be sacked any minute, I'm making so many mistakes), maybe for Quite Awhile (in which case I'll be debt-free - yay!), I just want you guys to know that although I may be surrounded by Death in all it's brutal glory at work, it's Life that I'm actually learning about.
and how to strap up and transport a body without it breaking in half before you reach your destination (an error guaranteed to get you into trouble with The Boss).