To Be or Not To Be?

Everybody will die. Sorry.

Even I will die, which makes me even sorrier.

We all lose the fight in the end, but some people are beaten by Life, and others are beaten by Death. And it seems you can’t choose which one applies to you, which is a great pity. I don’t want to know the time or date of my death, but I would like to know whether it will be Life that crushes me or Death that comes to me from behind a cloud, as it were, twirling his black cape in a theatrical gesture.

It will certainly happen some way . . . almost definitely a way I had not imagined . . . and it doesn’t matter that, like Woody Allen, I just don’t want to be around when it happens . . .; I’ll be there.

So, there is the little matter of whether I will be killed by Death or killed by Life.

Those who are killed by Death have disconnected from Life before they die. It happens to the very sick and the very tired, the very cynical or the very depressed.

It is not a lifestyle choice.

Nobody actually wants to be in a place where their only escape is the Big D. Nobody really wants to be that disconnected . . . so alone that they crave the ultimate disconnection.

Death is not just a function of age. Even the young can be very sick or very tired, or very cynical or very depressed. I have lost friends to cancer and heart failure, to self-loathing and inaction.

And this is not, unfortunately, out of the ordinary.

Then there are those who are defeated by Life.

They grapple with existence. They connect . . . with other people, with the natural world, with the stored wisdom of Time. If they get the chance, they “do not go gentle into that good night.”

If they are yet still alive, they will dance. If they are yet still alive, they will connect with the blue of the sky, and they will listen to the voice of the river.

This position is not a conscious lifestyle choice, either. These people are described by others as ‘brave’ or ‘positive’, but they have no choice in the matter. Life would be unbearable without the fight.

They seem to die too soon, or by accident, or very quickly, out of the blue.

To misquote Hamlet, it is a consummation devoutly to be wished. Only, he meant suicide, which would put him slap bang in the other camp. He is a man tired of life, which makes him easy prey for Death.

I’m not tired of life yet, so I am still hoping . . .




About stevehobsonauthor

I am blind, and I hate it. It stinks. But life is still sweet. I have multiple sclerosis, and that stinks too, but life is still sweet. These are my musings.
This entry was posted in Age, Death, Philosophy and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to To Be or Not To Be?

  1. Keith phillips says:

    Keep hoping Stephen !
    You have more to bear than most but you also have more to offer than most !
    You still have so much ‘fight’ left in you and though I know you may recoil at my assertion, you are both brave AND positive !
    Connected ? Yes, to Elisabeth, Ruby, to us and many more on line supporters, friends and family.
    So keep the faith my friend, whatever your beliefs may be x


  2. I hope you don’t think I’m an ass for saying this, but I’d love to know the date of my death. (I don’t need the time, necessarily, although I’d take that too.) That way I could be prepared—not in any deep philosophical sense, but in a practical sense. I’d be sure to gather my finances into a “poor man’s trust” (I don’t have so many assets that I’d need an actual trust) and I’d get my novel in order so that my husband could finish it for me and maybe publish it for free online (I know maybe three people who’d be disappointed by not being able to read it). Plus, I’d call everyone, make arrangements for my anti-funeral (and get into a dispute with my husband over this and finally say, “Meh, it’s for you. Do what you want with me to make things easy/better for you.”) I’d collect all my passwords and have them written down for my husband. I’d cancel subscriptions. Perhaps I’d even put up a post on my blog to let others know. I’d be sure to make a clean break, in other words. I hope this doesn’t sound insensitive, but I’m listed as the executor/trustee for so many people that I can’t help but think of things from that angle. I’ve spent too much time thinking of all those stupid little details that no one thinks about. In all honesty, I already have that list of passwords and I’ve already told my husband about it. He looked at me like I was nuts. (I’m in my thirties, but hey, it can happen to anyone.)

    And, I gotta say it, I know from experience, unfortunately… If I were a parent, I’d wipe the porn from my computer. Just saying. It’s not something a daughter should have to do.

    “If they are yet still alive, they will dance. If they are yet still alive, they will connect with the blue of the sky, and they will listen to the voice of the river.

    This position is not a conscious lifestyle choice, either. These people are described by others as ‘brave’ or ‘positive’, but they have no choice in the matter. Life would be unbearable without the fight.”

    So very true. Words of wisdom indeed. Although, I don’t know that these are the ones who die suddenly.

    That disconnection from life seems to be a “normal” part of the dying process, according to the creepy politically-correct manual I found in my mother’s room in memory care. (Which kind of amused me, since she wouldn’t have been able to read it, but which also made me really sad on so many levels.)

    Not that I disagree with the pamphlet. In a way, it seems like a perfectly natural response. I imagine lying in my death bed and listening to people carry on everyday conversations about which Chinese restaurant in town is the best, etc, and I can’t help but think I’d probably find such matters totally irrelevant. However, unlike my very patient and kind mother, I’d probably have something to say to those people talking about restaurants in my presence as if I weren’t there, something involving commands and expletives.

    Tolstoy grapples directly with this subject in “The Death of Ivan Ilyich.” (My favorite of his writings.) It’s about mundane life, and that life continuing despite your own death. It’s also about letting go, which he writes about with great psychological precision. Have you read it? It’s the only writing that’s moved me to tears. Tolstoy is a master of this subject.

    Sorry about the long comment! I hope it wasn’t too much.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. You’re so right, of course, but you’re selfless, obviously. What I leave behind me won’t be much, anyway. Certainly, my Will will cover it!
    To know the date of your own death – what an exquisite cruelty. It would ruin your enjoyment of life, as it is lived in the moment. Best to get the practical things in order now and assume tomorrow is the last day.
    Lovely to get a long comment like this, and a book recommendation, too! Thanks.


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