The Wisdom of Death
Death is a stubborn elephant in the Living room. Merely nodding its presence evokes visceral reactions in otherwise healthy individuals. At one extreme lies its morbid obsession, which is hardly the norm. Tacit or vehement denial comes closer to it. This asymmetry creates awkward social situations and hypersensitivity to its broaching, even in passing. The reaction ranges from unsettling to downright traumatizing or the ostrich effect. How dare an interlocutor foist all this death-talk? Is there any safe space left?
Is there ever a right time or a safe place to bring up death?
Let’s unpack this irrationality. Albert Camus was onto something big in stating the only serious philosophical problem is one of Suicide. There’s a great deal left unsaid in that fundamental proposition. A resounding no implies we are unwitting subscribers to the ride of life with all its joys, vicissitudes, and tedium. But it has a distinct end-point whether we like it or not!
Yin & Yang
Death is the yin to life’s yang. It’s non-discriminatory, comes unannounced, and spares none. Our vocabulary would be devoid of distinctions of Death and Life were they indistinguishable. That situation would be synonymous with immortality or non-existence. But the stark truth to life is that death is a terminus for all entities, living and non-living. A rotting carcass is an invitation to scavengers for feeding frenzy. Life sprouts out of death and decay. Most species that our so-called hospitable planet created were wiped out entirely. When in doubt, ask dinosaurs. Mortality is nature’s mechanism of recycling its resources. Rusting iron is indicative of an eventual heat death that awaits all of the cosmos. Every molecule in one’s fiber is a consequence of the spectacular expulsion of dying stars. Before apprehending the proper attitude towards death, we must address beliefs.