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The Practice Corner: The End Credits

by Daniel DeWoskin
Trial Attorney

Anybody who knows me knows that I love movies. I love good movies, bad movies, and all that is in-between. I enjoy the experience of being inside a movie theater and watching a film from the previews to the end credits. Ever since I was a child, I have always been fascinated by the very last minutes of films, just as the screen fades out and the credits begin to roll. It is less that I care about who the key gaffer was and more about what music is playing and what feeling the audiences are left with just before they exit the theater and return to their lives.

How might our own lives be if at the moments of our death, there are end credits? Certainly everyone who mattered in any even slightly significant way would be represented. The good guys who cared, nurtured, and inspired us would be there. The villains, the antagonists, and those who caused any kind of adversity would also be there. Our friends from grade school, some of whom we might not even remember by name, would be there as they taught us something about what it is to be a friend. We learned about impermanence from these sorts of relationships.

When I think about my own life, I think about how few extras there really are in life. Everyone else on the roadway as we commute to and from work has the capacity to drastically effect our own or another’s life by the manner in which he or she chooses to drive. When we are considerate and exercise good manners or rudely brush others off, we contribute to how they may go about their day after that relatively meaningless contact. These people might have their own section in our end credits.

Next, what music might be playing as the credits roll? There are days when I think that something like Gary Glitter’s “Rock & Roll, Part 2” might be most fitting, but then others when something a little more toned down might speak volumes. Once again, this is not what music plays at a funeral, but what music plays as the credits to our lives roll on. If you have seen the brilliant Albert Brooks film, “Defending Your Life,” you may better understand my unusual topic this month.

In “Defending Your Life,” Albert Brooks dies and travels to an afterlife-like place, where he must engage the services of a lawyer, as all the deceased must do, and essentially affirm the value of the life that he has led. Brooks, his lawyer, and a panel of judges observe several events of his life as though they were clips from a movie. I don’t spend much time thinking about the most representative moments of my life or how they play out, but I do think from time to time about what the most important things are in my life and who the most important people are.

These are the things that had me considering the end credits. At the moment, I have no intent for the end credits to play anytime soon. I hope to have many healthy decades left, but I would hope that my own personality doesn’t age such that any rock and roll songs that might play out the last scene would turn into elevator music. What an awful thought. I suppose that if elevator music plays as someone’s end credits roll, it means little more than that they just took up space throughout their life, stopping from floor to floor and never stepping out.

If you have seen any of the Marvel superhero movies, you might understand how I would hope that, as the last few credits of my life float upward, there is a final teaser scene for the sequel. I have not yet decided whether I want this to signify that I aspire to art house reincarnation or a George Romero zombie movie. With any luck, I will have a long time to decide.

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