Recycling ourselves.

Today I was intending to follow-up my previous ‘$elling our $elves’ post with a discussion of some of the multitude of possible personal attributes we can use to convince others that we’re worth buying and possible keeping. But I’m afraid I’ve had to put that on the back-burner, as an incident at my favourite cafe today diverted me from the issue of self-selling to that of recycling and then to self-recycling.

This diversion was triggered by Deb, a member of the cafe staff, who, as my daughter has similarly been urging me to do, suggested I might consider equipping myself with a so-called ‘keep cup’ so that I can bring it with me for refilling on each visit instead of having my cappuccino in a disposable cup, the better to enable me to wander away from the no-smoking table area whenever I fancy a cigarette.

“If you get a keep cup,” said Deb, “you’ll be saving lots of these disposable ones from going into landfill”, she politically and ecologically-correctly said. But, somewhat to my own surprise as well as hers, I found myself spontaneously responding that at my advanced age I’m less concerned at the thought of my cups’ going into landfill than that of my corpse’s doing so.

As I’m sure you can well imagine, that pretty-well killed the disposable-versus-keep-cup conversation. But it also got me thinking further grave thoughts. When I inevitably, heaven forbid, die, and probably die coughing, considering how long and how much I’ve been smoking, will I be content to have my remains buried in landfill, albeit in the comfort of a single-use and thus decidedly non-recyclable cougher’s coffin?

Or would I on the whole prefer incineration/cremation, a practice that to my mind must inevitably exacerbate already-dire levels of air pollution. And the scattering of the resultant ashes, though admittedly an act of re-distribution, is not, as far as I’m concerned, strictly speaking recycling.

Nor, indeed quite the opposite, is the inordinately expensive and I think overly optimistic practice of having one’s carcass snap-frozen and kept in cryogenic storage in expectation of eventual resuscitation, or reincarnation, or even both.

In fact as far as I’ve been able to imagine, my only opportunities for truly environmentally-friendly self-recycling is to donate my mortal remnants to medical science in the hope that I can be useful for dissection by students, or that at least some of my organs and tissues will be re-usable as transplants.

But everything considered, I think that if it’s legal in this country, which I grant you is unlikely, I’ll opt for air-burial.

There are some people, I know, who consider that the exposure of the deceased outdoors is barbaric and thus for the birds. But as far as I’m concerned, becoming bird-food and thus flying free and soaring high as part of some vulture, or buzzard or other scavenger culture is about as ideal as the concept of self-recycling gets.

Meanwhile, however, as long as my life-cycle continues, I can console myself that the passing-on of my genes, albeit both randomly and only partially, to my son and daughter and their descendants is one of the most rewarding form of pre-mortem self-recycling I could possibly contemplate.

Almost sufficient, in fact, if it wasn’t for my feelings of anticipatory grief at eventually leaving my children and other loved-ones, and the thought of the pain they may feel at and beyond my passing, to put the ‘fun’ back in the word ‘funeral’.

A remark that reminds me of another form of self-recycling that I and I’ve noticed lots of other writers practice: the repetition of favourite old jokes, puns and other plays on words.

The fun/funeral one above, for example, I’ve recycled or, even more reprehensibly, self-plagiarised from a piece I wrote back in 2011, celebrating the richly-served deaths of two notoriously homicidal dictators, Generals Ne Win of Burma and Galtieri of Argentina.

And regular, long-term readers of my blog, Facebook posts and  years of Malaysiakini columns, old-stagers like Antares, Ktemoc, Kim Quek and Din Merican, to name just a few, are surely well aware of lots of other such literary self-recyclings I’ve committed over the years.

But what the hell? At least the old lines been given new lives in new contexts for the possible enjoyment if not edification of a whole new generation of readers, rather than having been left for dead and forever buried in the metaphorical landfill of  my old files.

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