Ways of Dying

Of the many things about death that scares us, or perhaps, unsettles or puts us at unease, is the unfamiliarity with the entire experience. Excluding the accidental and rare disease related deaths of children, most human beings survive the phenomena of life on an average of roughly 70 years. That means nearly seven decades of anticipation, honing of skills, mastering of circumstances and instincts, grappling with reality, and simply put, navigating a rollercoaster of unknown length, in the hope that by the fag end, you will be able to predict the last few turns.
That is why death surprises us. It is the sudden disappearance of the tracks underneath your feet. But that’s not what this piece is about. Rather, it’s about realising that death, in itself, is not an unfamiliar experience, but rather one that we are quite intimate with, but somehow fail to acknowledge. People choose to focus on the definition, or the synonyms of death (extinction, passing away, loss etc.) to reach a conclusion. Sure, death means extinguishing of life, life of a person. Sure, it means loss, loss of a person. But when exactly can you say a person is dead? When his physical, biological being, if put extremely crudely, runs out of fuel? No. That’s the demise only of the instrument that enables us to carry out the functions deemed necessary. Perhaps, it is time to relook death.
Events change people, that’s the base of any evolution in human psyche. The change maybe positive or negative, but change begets change. We definitely change with every passing moment, but it is noticeable only when it adds up. I somehow always liked the adage of the product being greater than the sum of its total.
What I am trying to say is that we deal with death regularly, but without acknowledging it. What is a bad breakup, but the death of that person you were, or she was, till that relationship? What’s graduation, but the passing away of the care-free idiot who could procrastinate for hours? Perhaps, we eventually do turn into doppelgangers of ourselves. We, or they, might appear to be the same person, but they’ve changed. Infinitesimally at first, but completely, until the next change.
We cry when a dear one passes away, with one of the major reasons being the inability to communicate with her. Do you really think you ever will be able to interact with the teenage you?
The rising of the sun, however deep or philosophical it may appear to be, is sometimes just a star finally being seen by one side of a planet. A statement, a fact. Maybe accepting this one would make us humane, or maybe…just maybe let us derive more from each moment we’re alive, because howsoever you may define death, the truth is that every moment dies with the coming of the next, and we…we can just hope we make the most of the one we’re experiencing right now.

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