Thursday, March 01, 2007

The Meaning of Death

Howdy folks, it’s been a weird week, and that means it’s time again to come up with something different on the blog. I’ve got some political notions in my head, but nothing really original, and most attempts to be brilliant are nothing brilliant at all. But something that happened Monday got me to thinking.

I was giving an annual review to my employees, and in the middle of one, while the employee was discussing her notion of what she planned to do to improve her results this year, I had an - 'image', I guess I will call it.

I felt just like I did as I was being wheeled in for my appendectomy back in November last year, only this time it was for my upcoming surgery at MD Anderson. I saw, in my mind but in a perception seemeingly of its own volition, the team of doctors waiting for me. They set me on the table, the anesthesia began -

and that was it. Not the end of the image, but as time passed I realized that in this image I died on the table. No white light, no happy or frightening recap of my life, no end credits or music.

Just black silence, and the sense that this was all there would be.

Now, I do not for a minute believe that what I saw was a real "vision", nor do I think I was hallucinating. I will be chewing the matter over in my head for a while, but I began to think about that. I was worried that I might be ready for those fashionable jackets with the sleeves which tie in the back, and should look for a comfortable and affordable tailor. But some good friends explained that it was very likely just a panic attack.

But to the topic at hand. Barring a radical departure from the known Laws of the Universe, we all will die sometime. With that in mind, we all wish to live Life to its fullest, although we don't fully understand that ideal. We also want to make a difference, to be glad of our choices and decisions. We all have decisions to make, with real consequences and real development of our lives decided by our choices. When we die, we don't want it to be anytime soon, but since it must happen, we want to go in such a way that, well, we will be missed. The higher order of person wants to go without leaving problems or pain for someone else, which is one reason why a person should never commit suicide.

We also understand that some people die in ways which, well, are magnificent. Men who die in battle, firefighters and policemen and medics who die while saving others, martyrs (the real ones) who die in the name of Peace and Justice and who build Hope for many through their sacrifice, are a sort of people difficult to understand completely, yet whose honor is so wondrous that all who see it cannot help but salute in some way. All who are truly human, sense and applaud the person who does something greater than should be possible. In a smaller, yet similar, way, we note the work of authors, composers, and creators of different sorts who bring something truly good into being. And this does not touch the subtler masters of Life, like truly good and wise parents and the True Friend. Death serves, in a strange fashion, to illuminate the greatness of such people.

Death also serves a function without which we should despair of Life. Inevitably, there is a friction to Life, some of it physical but most of it emotional and psychological. Every loss, every defeat, every serious wound leaves its mark and over Time it becomes a great difficulty to continue in anything like a normal fashion. Like Frodo at the end of the Lord of the Rings saga, it is too much to bear, and there must be an answer which serves to relieve the soul of its burden. As much as we love our families, our friends, and all the blessings which the Good Lord bestows on us, there is a time when it is meet for us each to leave the stage. Where to, we do not know, but we are bound for that journey nonetheless, as much in hope as in obedience to greater forces than we control.

3 comments:

Eric said...

Dude, are you OK?

FedUp said...

Hey DJ,

I guess I am another one for the nice little jacket.

I almost drowned when I was 7. Long story, but to make it short, I went under the water once, came to the surface, under again, up again, under the 3rd time. Right before my eyes went under the 3rd time, I saw my Uncle jump into the lake with all of his clothes on. I thought "Why is Uncle Bruno swimming with his clothes on?"

Everything was peaceful, no pain, no feeling of drowning. I saw a light, brightest I had ever seen, but it didn't hurt my eyes. I was warm, calm. Then I saw a figure with flowing hair and wearing a white robe with a rope sash walking towards me. And this figure stretched out his/her hand to me.

I knew who it was and was ready to take the hand when everything just got black. Black for a long time.

Then I woke up in bed with my Aunt, Uncle and the Dr. standing around the bed. Seems I was unconscious for about 8 hours.

It wasn't my time to go, but I have remembered that feeling of utter clam and peace ever since. I know that when it is my time, I will not be frightened.

Please don't be frightned either. It isn't your time yet. (I just know it isn't - don't ask me how I know.)

Everything will go well with your operation. So many of us will be praying for you.

smh10 said...

DJ:

To me greatness is momentary but goodness is forever.

You sir, are one of the "good" people who has been willing to share with so many of us.

Prayers are with you and your family.