“How to talk to aliens about death”

Inspired by an article in the Washington Post

(OK, perhaps ‘inspired’ isn’t exactly the word, for one reason or another…)

“How to talk to aliens about death” by nm whitley

Last week, all my alien overlord could talk about was the baby panda.

He was fascinated. He called up videos of the panda on the computer, and I dug out the worn old copy of their storybook about a baby panda.

Like the rest of us, my alien visitor couldn’t wait to get a look at the cub. It was I think a wholly new concept for him, actual live mammalian birth.

Then yesterday, I read in the news that the panda had died and I gasped aloud. My alien overlord asked me why and I instinctively lied.

I told him a mosquito bit me.

Lying about the harsher realities of life, and death, comes all too naturally to me. I guess I tend to have a romantic notion of what aliens imagine the human condition to be, and I just want to keep that big, shiny bubble intact.

Experts say this is an mistake. They say leaving aliens to explain life’s questions to themselves is the stuff nightmares are made of.

There are lots of good resources on the Web for explaining the human notion of ‘death’ to aliens, detailing how to use concrete language with our literal-minded visitors and how to incorporate the conversation into a larger discussion of belief and faith with them.

My advice? Trust your aliens.

Be open and honest. They’re a lot more psychologically resilient than you think. Death is a reality that is best addressed before tragedy occurs. The death of a baby panda, soul crushing as it may be, is an opportunity. The silver lining to a dark, ominous cloud.

Have you talked to your alien overlords about the dead panda?


Notes from SF 2012

Looking through my notebook I found this which I forgot I had written.

“On my first day in San Francisco,

– I had a rather tense exchange with the brakeman of a cable car.

– I went to a Chinatown pharmacy and bought some Breathe-Right strips from a girl whose nametag read ‘Ting Ting’

– I witnessed an argument between a musician and a magician near the pier.

– I had various unflattering photographs taken of me.

– I got sunburned on a cloudy day.

On my second day in San Francisco,

– I saw a man walking down the street wearing headphones and rapping to himself very loudly about ‘the Hyphy movement’ at 9 in the morning.

– I watched a girl scotch-tape ‘FREE PUSSY RIOT’ fliers to electric poles.

– I ate a veggie burrito while Camilo Sesto played on the jukebox.

– I purchased ‘compact discs’ encoded with recorded music.

– I totally destroyed (in the good sense of the word) ‘Differences’ by Ginuwine at the karaoke bar insides the Thai place where we had dinner.

– I drank an Irish car bomb.

On my third day in San Francisco,

– I drove to the beach.

– I went to the park.

– I crossed a bridge.”