Death: the high cost of living


A current view that pervades society today is the notion that death is something that one must fear and must try to get around at all costs. This is a view I can't really relate to, since without death there is no life.

I'm not saying this out of ignorance (I have come close to dying several times in my life) nor out of inexperience (I've had people extremely close to me die). It could be argued that I'm crazy, but as Ambrose Bierce said, "[a]ll are lunatics, but he who can analyse his delusion is called a philosopher."

The fear of death is perpetuated based on the idea that we need to live a life where we accomplish certain goals and it would be terrible if we died before doing so. But leading a "full life" is a dynamic process, not a goal. I think it's important to be comfortable with what one has achieved for the amount of life they've had. I think the point is to enjoy the process, not worry about whether one has accomplished all the goals one has set out for myself. It'd be nice to accomplish as many as possible and I constantly do that. But it's never possible to accomplish everything you want to do in life.

I don't claim to be fearless: far from it, I consider fear to be an healthy emotion if channelled properly. Even though Roosevelt's quote is more inspiring, I believe my version of it is more true: "the only thing we have to fear is a lack of fear." I live by that adage. But fear can also lead to anger, hate and suffering. (That's Yoda in Star Wars: The Phantom Menace. :)

There's no point in being concerned about the absence of life. Without its absence, there is no presence. Death is as much as an integral part of being "alive" as anything else. By no means am I advocating that people should want to die nor do I want to die. Rather, I'm saying that death isn't something to be feared and that I'm completely comfortable with the notion that I could die anytime. At any point you could die, and there's nothing wrong or bad about it. I hope that in my death, people will be able to find joy in the occasion (and I mean that most sincerely).

There's always something that "lives on" after you due (in other words, there is nothing to fear). The plot of one of Arnold Schwarzenegger's movies, The 6th Day, is fueled by the view that one must survive at all costs. But one does survive, in the form of their genes and/or memes propagating.


Addendum

The New York Times had a piece on euphemisms for death. I came up with:

The above are original though I've seen variants like "the high cost of living", "the inevitable result of living", "the price paid for living", and "the consequence of living".


Pseudointellectual ramblings || Ram Samudrala || me@ram.org