Wrestling with Death
Updated: Oct 4, 2020
The world has been ravaged with the scourges of the Coronavirus. I am seeing people lose jobs, lose their lives, lose their sanity, lose a sense of meaning. I find that I am really unmoved. Don't get me wrong; I have had to deal with personal storms as a result of this season. However, I think one of the advantages of going through many tough times is that they help you clarify what is truly important and give priority to things that should really count.
One of the toughest things to deal with is death. The economy goes through cycles and tends to bounce back, politicians come and go, eventually, cures are found for diseases or our immune systems finally manufacture the right "vaccines" - but when one dies, there is a finality; there is no coming back.
About 4 years ago (from the time of writing), my dad passed. He was in his mid-eighties which is supposedly a good age to pass on. But it stung like hell; it still does. And to be honest, it gave me a newfound dread for death and its resulting pain - but it also helped to put a lot of life in perspective. Someone once said, "better is the house of mourning than the house of mirth" and weird as this statement sounds, its paradox makes a lot of sense when you really start to think about the meaning and rationale for the statement.
1: I think you start to really live when you really realize you are going to die.
If you are suddenly told by a reliable doctor that you have 2 weeks to live, I daresay those two weeks will be weeks that you really live, really love, really focus on the most important relationships and where things that do not really count take a back seat. I think you will take some risks, like dancing in the rain, like stealing a kiss, like giving someone an expensive gift, like spending quality time just being around those you love.
I think you would live deliberately, give full attention to what counts and pay no mind to what doesn't. I think that you'd also put money in its right place; as a tool for Purpose that is meant to be shared to empower others and not to be hoarded. The question is, why are so many of us not living this way already?
2: I think you find a new level of humility when you embrace the fact that the world will keep on moving after you pass, no matter who you are.
As you read this, a lot of bacterial, viral and your cells are dying in and on your body as new ones are coming to life. As you read this, another petal falls to the ground, another animal dies or is killed as a farmer puts new seeds into the ground, as a bee helps another plant come to life, as new fruits ripen. As you read, another human in a war-torn country is ripped apart by a bullet, dies from cancer, perhaps, gives in to the onslaught of the coronavirus due to immuno-comprise - just as another baby is born, as a happy couple make love, straining for ecstasy, as a doctor cuts off an umbilical cord. And as you read, another supernova occurs, another star explodes, sending its content across the universe, another planet is born in a galaxy or solar system far far away.
None of these will stop occurring on the day you breathe your last.
Like the Shroedinger cat, you are important, you are unique, you are beautiful and you matter, and yet, in the grand scheme of things, in the larger scope, you are (like) nothing. Just like you do not shed a tear for the death of every bacteria cell even if it gave itself to another, contemplated itself and lived life as new research is indicating that they can. And when you are gone, life will keep on moving on, no matter who you are or what you did, and the deep realization of this makes you humble.
3: I think you start to ask the right questions and zero in on meaning when deeply sad moments come.
When my dad was passing, some wanted to pray for him to get better as his illness slowly took him. When he passed, I was forced to ask myself so many questions:
1. Did I really wish that he'd come back to be here for a while, still in his frail body, when he would die again?
2. What was he seeing right now with his "eyes", considering his "eyes", as we know it, were left here?
3. Was he alright in the new place, wherever that place is?
4. Did I genuinely wish he was here or that I was there?
5. What, in the end, is the real meaning of life?
6. Why are we here, do we count even though we appear to be blips in the grand scheme of things?
7. When I pass, what do I want my children and their children to remember me for? Like Chester Bennington of Linkin Park once crooned before his passing, "Help me leave behind some reason to be missed".
8. What is my life's mission and is it something I dream up, or if there was a Creator, did he have a purpose he/she/it wanted me to find and align with for my life?
4: I think you eventually find a deeply sensible respect for the Divine.
As an ex-atheist, I think it is easy to be godless when you are far from Death's door. However, when confronted with its reality, I am told many Atheist find themselves praying, not necessarily because there is new-found faith in a God, but because, many times, we just don't know what is out there and we tend to feel that there may be more out there than what we understand. And as smart as the human race has come to be, we still wonder how we came to be here. Are we the result of an alien race? Did we come from random chance and no thought, meaning our lives really have no real meaning except what each individual comes to define meaning as?
And if I define my meaning/morality and it was at the expense of yours, do I pursue it since it gives me meaning at your detriment? Or do we have a sense of "rightness" in an imperfect world because we come with a pre-tuned compass from a maker? Is it logical to say that if we are complex, that our being and evolution speaks of a designer just like every intricate creation speaks to? And if it is logical to say complex creation came from a Maker, what was the plan for the creation of this complexity that is us? What was the plan? And are we in alignment with that plan? Will an alignment with that plan give us a bit more meaning apart from the parameters we define for ourselves based solely on our desires or the dictates of our individual societies?
And what kind of mind created us using materials from Earth and makes us run on juice that is composed of components from distant stars? It must definitely be an amazing mind that, to my mind, is worth seeking and pondering on.
And the thoughts go on and on..Isincerely hope you lose no one at this time. The pain is unreal. If it does, past the grief, I hope your life finds new meaning from the pain. And if none is lost, as you live your life, be aware that no one gets out alive. So, live deliberately, love hard, really live - and as much as possible, give every moment and every relationship your best shot!
Article by J.C. Nova. If it made sense, share via the links below.
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