Sunday, June 26, 2011

One Day

One of the major aspects of growing old -- entering one's twilight years -- is having to face-up with our own mortality. It certainly isn't the kind of topic to dwell on, but the older you get, the more you realize your last day on earth will come.

I am not suggesting that we aren't aware of this inevitability when we are younger. We each know that our lives can stop at any moment. A fatal car accident. Being at the wrong place at the wrong time. An illness or deadly disease that strikes too young. A stray bullet. But once we have dodged the various accidents, illnesses and unexpected occurrences for several decades, the knowledge that life will end someday for one reason or another takes on a level of immediacy.

It might not be today, next week, next month, next year or even next decade, but, nonetheless, it is far closer than it is farther! And each day that we cross off the list only moves that unknown date closer still.

When I was younger, I was frightened by the idea of my own death. I would lay awake at night wondering if there is an afterlife and what it might entail. My death no longer captures my imagination. If there IS an afterlife, I'll find out about it once I cross the veil. If there isn't an afterlife, then once I breathe my last breath, I won't know it anyway.

The thing that does continue to capture my imagination is the PROCESS of death. I'd be lying if I didn't admit that dy-ing remains a scary proposition. Since it won't be part of a routine that I am familiar with, I worry that I will die in bad form and there will be no one empowered to grant me a brief do-over of those last throes!


  1. I suspect the process of our death began the minute we drew our first breath. It's just the end stages that are kind of scary, especially since being older gives you the vantage point to survey both the things you know you did well in life and the ones you didn't do so well.

  2. I recently watched a Chinese film in which a character who had a lot of vitality, a big life, is dying of some terrible cancer, an end-stage melanoma. He makes remarks to his friend (who will be an accomplice in his suicide when it gets too awful) that he is not afraid of death/being dead, but afraid that the dying part may be worse than being alive. (I saw the film on a plane; I may have to buy it/Netflix it to find out the exact quote.)

    It's not a great movie, but interesting:

    To quote Bob Dylan:
    "He not busy being born is busy dying."


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