Recently came across the news of a friend from college days who succumbed to cancer. He was fighting it for some 2-3 years now and apparently had recovered from it. That's why this news of his sudden departure came as a shock to me.
Discussing this, one of our common friends quipped
In this uncertain life, only death is certain.
This is such a hard truth, yet most of us keep avoiding facing it. In fact, we would do anything except think about our own mortality.
Watch one more cat video. Pick up a fight on twitter. Go have that ice cream. Put fight for that coveted job. Anything except think about what is this all for.
It's like there is a hole in us, which we desperately want to fill. Either through relationships, status games, money or enriching experiences. But we never quite fill it. Never.
There's a story about Alexander the Great, one of the greatest emperors to have walked on the face of the world. On his deathbed, one of his wishes was to keep both his hands dangling out of the coffin. Surprised, his generals asked why such a weird wish. He replied:
"I wish people to know that even Alexander the Great - came empty handed into this world and empty handed he went out of this world."
If you are someone who believes that there is life after death or that you get resurrected, then at least you die with some hope. But what if you don't subscribe to such beliefs. What if after death you are just switched off - like a bulb is switched off. Nothing remains of you. You just cease to exist. How do you reconcile this?
Ernest Becker in his masterpiece, The Denial of Death, propounds that man's refusal to acknowledge his own mortality is at the core of shaping the nature of humanity. Death is something which gives meaning to life.
But, and its a big but -
If all of us eventually die, does it really matter what we do in our life?