BEYOND LIFE AND DEATH
Why the Inseperable Fear of Dying Young Shouldn’t Concern Us Much
Overthinking about life and death makes us suffer twice.
Are you scared of death?
Worst of all, are you scared of dying young?
Besides an inbuilt fear of death, one fundamental aspect that dominates our emotions is both Life and death are eternal themes of humankind’s existence. They live in the spiritual culture of humanity. The mystery that Life and death carry with itself has been fascinating philosophers, moralists, Prophets, and founders of varied religions, art, and literature enthusiasts for ages.
Ironically, the subjects of Life and death have pressured them to burrow deeper and find answers to the most interesting problems that tailor Life and death.
On an individual front, the fear of death and potential immortality makes us question what is the governing power in the human world: Life or death? We speculate over these inseparable entities that later chain us in the worriment of death. To pour water on our fears, flipping the historical past has answers.
Ancient times have mentioned legendary figures who died tragically. When we reflect on their extent of contribution to society, it disheartens us to know how young these talents died. After we zero down every minute detailing, we find that such extraordinary figures seemed to have achieved more in a brief time of their lifespan than many of us achieving in decades.
Strictly speaking, none among us wants to die young. Why? Because we have plentiful dreams, goals, and aspirations that we fantasize about. Besides that, everyone needs their own space and time for dream fulfillment. And an early death will deny the purpose. Eventually, it can cost our dreams to suffer.
It is why the majority of us exhibit an inclinational fear of death. Or, to put it precisely about dying young. Here, fear of death isn’t a shocking perception. Instead, the amazement resides in its unvocal underlying principles. Among a few unvocal things is that we remain naively attached to Life that death feels rather detached.
So here we can question ourselves —
- Why are we so attached to Life if it’s just temporary?
- Why do we avoid death if it’s the only reality?
- Does the existence of death give meaning to Life?
Seeking a rational conclusion to the above questions might rather be difficult. The simple reason being, answers may differ depending upon an individual’s purview. I find the narrative of Life and death as a concept — abstract, elusive, and mysterious. For others, it might be objective, scientific, and explicable.
In the holy words of the Islamic God Allah, “Oh, people! He created life and death to experience who is better in their good deeds.”
To die young aggravates human confusion regarding birth and death in terms of time-span. Herein, the grave mistake is the judgment we make about death as a time-based orientation. The brutal truth is neither of Life’s phases, be that childhood, adolescence, old age, confides in an ambiance of certainty.
We remain fearful, for we anchor Life and death as foreseeable events. When we dial back, such predicaments in Life are highly unpredictable.
Implications Of Death
We marginalize death with fear. The youthful years inflict a higher tendency to avoid death. The reason being to the people in their young years, life seems potentially long and somewhat more meaningful than at the later stages.
We remain so ingrained by life’s beauty that we think of it as our permanent destination. Therefore, when sudden unexpected events (most recent human tragedy, the Coronavirus Pandemic, for example) strikes, we become fearful, shocked, and confused. Hence, our negligent attitude in understanding the rationale behind death spikes our alienation tendency towards it.
A significant part of our lives indulges in procrastinating about death instead of deriving its meaningful adaptation. Onward, we tend to idolize life from a unilateral perspective and harbor a permanent space for them, instead of what we must worthily be doing with the years allocated to us.
Take, for instance, a person with a finite living period and who remain open to experiences, creativity, affection, connection, and is delightful, allows for a lot denser and more profound way of living in comparison to those who are a less responsive and inconsiderate person with the years allocated to them. People in brave spirits must value their time and assign them more numerical weightage than wasting time and longing for a few more years.
Our adaptability and indifferent attitude towards both life’s phases determine how purposefully we live. As once rightly stated, “Not everyone who is living is equally alive.” Therefore, the more we constrict ourselves from understanding death, the higher the seed of bitterness towards its embrace.
The key idea is to recalibrate our life span according to the depths of meaning assigned rather than counting the unfruitful years we live.
Interpreting a Premature death
According to the German philosopher and cultural critic Friedrich Nietzsche, “Some die too young, some die too old; the precepts sound strange, but die at the right age.”
The narrative above states that it isn’t necessarily what happens to a young artist who dies in his early years. That particular person may have reasonably completed his/her life cycle or their nonagenarian phase in their time span.
The precept torches light on the fact that we who might at present, whatever be our age, are certainly walking towards an early death due to our inflexible attachment to life. In addition, a premature death pinches us with a sensation of regret or guilt if we destroy our developmental years of life.
Henceforth, our real purpose shouldn’t be about claiming more decades for our survival. In truthfulness, we all should sprinkle our lives with a sense of acceptance and hold gratitude in the art of living.
Legendary personalities who lived a short life-span
Life’s unpredictable. So is death. They resemble sensations that rapidly touch us and quickly goes. If the notion of death preoccupies at a preliminary stage, we question its validness. Further, if its cues remain unanswered, we spiral around a loop that infiltrates within us a persistence dilemma.
Henceforth, aren’t our thoughts wavering where the concepts about Life drift towards illusions? These illusions are like dust, where realities remain hidden. To state, we associate experiences showered by Life as an infinite entity and a grant forever. The absolute truth unfolds when illusionary specks of dust get removed, revealing death as the ultimate reality.
It mentions —
- The objective truth resides in our definite acceptance of death.
- Illusions are like a mirage. It dissociates death from Life, demonstrating the former an unrealistic life event.
- As everything in the universe pedals along with their opposites, the night and day, summer and winter, for example, so meaning of death stands as a pillar giving meaning to Life.
Life to us appears beautiful because it exists in a realm of uncertainty. Death is a discovery, much like an unknown universe that also voices meaningfulness.
Many extraordinary people from the past who lived a brief life avoided living with a passive mindset lined with illusions, uncertainty and avoided thinking about a timeless existence. Instead, these good souls focussed upon achieving more in a few years instead of a decade, gave a significant weightage to each fleeting moment, and lived purposefully.
To name a few legendary figures:
- John Keats: Keats is known as the archetypal poet who died at 25 after he contracted tuberculosis. However, his death talks about a meaningful life. Posthumously, his works in creative poetry touched a million lives. Despite an early death, Keats lives and relives through his art.
- Anne Frank: Dutch-Jewish Diarist, known for her diary Anne Frank died merely at 15. After her death, the diary work got published, which recalls her Life spent as a victim in concentration camps. Here, rather than death, she meaningfully weaved Life in the moments. Her work is carried forward as her memorable legacy.
- Swami Vivekananda: A Hindu monk whose religious teachings mention his inspiring legacy. His philosophy voiced, “One has to die…it is better to wear away than rust away” — living an intensively active life. He fulfilled his prophecy of not seeing the rest 40 years and died aged 39.
- Alexander The Great: This King of Macedonia (356–323 BC) died young at 33. He was a significant figure and had established an empire extending from the Ionian Sea to the Himalayas in India. Rather than living a decade, he created an impactful life in a few spans divinely allocated to him.
- Martin Luther King: The American civil rights campaigner Martin Luther King, Jr. led the non-violent civil rights movement. He was at the forefront of the sweeping social change of the 1960s. Assassinated in 1968, he died aged 39. However, his legacy is marching with higher spirits every decade.
From the above few examples, we conclude that it doesn’t matter whether you are a genius in poetry, paintings, or other creative art forms. What matters significantly is, it remains for us to choose how purposefully we value each moment for our good that also serves society.
It also implies that we simply shouldn’t be fixated or stressed about futuristic events, especially those that foretell death. The key is to concentrate on how to paint the moments of your Life with meaningful colors.
Death and life philosophize as exams of humankind
The novel “The Leopard” reflects on a powerful death scene. It outlines Don Fabrizio Corbera’s (Prince of Salina) life caught amidst war and revolution.
The central theme of this psychological novel depicts the struggle between mortality and decay (the death, memory loss, fading beauty, changes in the political system, the false relics, and so on.) and of abstraction and eternity (the Prince’s affection for stars and astronomy, the continuity and resilience towards the change of Sicilian people).
Lying on his deathbed, Prince, the book’s psychological center, is going to die. Surrounded by relatives with tears in their eyes, the Prince asks himself an appalling yet genuine question, “How much of my life did I actually live?”
Upon profound examination, he thought:
- Is it before his wedding or a few months after it?
- Was it after the birth of his first son? or
- A few hours spent in his observatory (for he was a distinguished astronomer)? or
- Few occasional moments of flirtations? or
- The times when he read aloud with children, or the hours when he conversed with his friends (particularly his nephew)?
The answers, however, spoke not much. On much reflection, it only specified time confined to a year or two in the sum of the entire years where the Prince felt he actually had lived.
Through the above psychological narrative, our lives remain highly relatable. In times of death, we suddenly start seeking answers to impossible questions, whether meaningful or meaningless. If the answers remain diplomatic and confusing, we, human beings, feel incomplete, restless, and mournful.
Hence, if we evaluate the reality of our lives simply by the number of days passed, then the answer might weaponize us with distress.
Instead, we should focus on adapting the quality of living Life meaningfully. It is in how well we live, how grateful we are towards Life that adds value rather than merely existing for existence. We should never forget that time isn't short for us. In an authentic sense, we fall short of kindness, affection, compassion, empathy, and tolerance.
Incorporating the higher values is important, for their negligence might break the human strings of pursuing a meaningful living. Valuable traits help create brighter experiences where we remain fearless, approachable, and responsive.
To witness days lined with gloom is an unavoidable reality of human lives but isn’t a definition of death. The real challenges of human Life remain, not Life or death, but it’s the difficulty in directing Life with courage and sensitivity.
As mentioned at the start, the legends remain great, for they avoid a mindset that sits in passivity. Extraordinary humans are special, for they are visionary. The zone where ordinary people falter is when they develop their imaginary notion ornamenting them to a fanciful or perfectionist life.
At times when we measure life span in quantified terms or become fixated, we lose focus on our purposeful journey of Life. The human spotlight must be on transforming Life rather than wasting energy in procrastinating death.
Flipping through our historical past, its shreds of evidence and proofs, we can conclude that none of us can command life and death. Neither the beauty of our existence owes a count.
Instead of considering life as a blessing, we are more stressed about having limited time. Consequently, we tend to rush things up; as early as possible, now or never, settle sooner and continued on.
We remain deeply engrossed with the idea of an ideal life that we eventually become fearful of death. Conclusively, our thoughts strain, thinking we might die amidst a pandemic or at the wink of any moment. Instead of yearning for extended life, we should direct our energies in living creatively deep.
To rightly paraphrase in the words of Abraham Lincoln, “And in the end, it’s not the years in your life that count. It’s the life in your years.”