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Death Gives Life Meaning

4 min read

In a society obsessed with artificial immortality, otherwise known as the external apearance of 'youthfulness', we speak very little of death.


We haven't the courage or social circumstances to really discuss what the 'appropriate' response to the death of a loved one, or even the death of a friend's loved one, should be. We feel that we must console, apologize, sympathize (although how might we sympathize when we haven't a clue how they feel?)

This lack of realization, this out-of-touchness, keeps us from realizing the greatest gift that death gives us: a real and valuable perspective on the frailty and impermanence of life. We twenty-somethings and up have all uttered the phrase "teenagers think they'll live forever" or that "they think they're immortal", and we begin to mimic the behavior of our elders by becoming either consciously reckless or carefully conservative as we age. But what are we protecting and preserving? What right do we have to judge the vivaciousness of the youth we judge? And have we really become more wise in preserving ourselves from danger, or have we simply become hidden within a cage of our fears and doubts?

We die. 

Let those words ring out in your heart and mind.

We die. All of whom we know one day will die. We may not be remembered, and if we are our stories most definitely won't be accurately retold. We preserve our reputation for it to be rewritten after death. We preserve our body through skin-care and muscle toning and even surgery only for it to deteriorate within. 

We are food for the worms, and we are all, one day, destined for either the sea or the soil.

Death and Life - Gustav Klimt

So yes, we die. The question is... do we live?


What would you do if you knew you might die tomorrow? Next week? How about if you might die on your way home? Would you kiss those you love goodbye every time you leave? Would you say I love you with less fear? Would you be building your life, stacking up hours at a job that pays you little to nothing, all in the hopes that one day your dream of a better life will be within reach?

There are no warranties, no gaurantees on life. Life is ripped from you and from those you love in an instant without kindness, without warning, and without malice. It isn't fair, it isn't even wrong; it simply IS, a fact of this world.

Perhaps at this point you might imagine the mind who would write these things must be morose, depressed, downright dark. I can't say I haven't been these things once or twice, but I will tell you a secret. 

As much as a deadline will push someone to get their work finished sooner, the promise (yes, it is a promise that death will come without warning) of death is the push that reminds me to LIVE. We might idolize immortality or eternal youth, but to live life without the fear of death? That is a privilege only given to those who truly live. 

So, before you get distracted for the hundredth time -I know this is something I struggle with, also- think about what your last moments would be. What would you regret not doing? What part of life will be pulling at you asking, "Why did you not explore me?" And if you believe in reincarnation, what role in life have you put-off that will inevitably bring you back again in order to experience? 

It's a New Year, and the rules are changing rapidly about how this world works, but this one truth is still self-evident: You will die. This question remains; Will you live?


Danger in the lakes...