I have a question for you: Are you afraid of dying? Sorry, that was a bit blunt wasn’t it; let’s put it another way……..are you afraid of dying? Yes, I know it’s the same question but there isn’t really any other way to put it. I think most people would answer yes but why, it’s not as if anyone has ever come back and told us what it’s like; it could be that life as we know it is just an intro, something to be, at worst, suffered and, at best, tolerated until we move on to the really good stuff. A bit like the trailers before the movie – interesting in their way but not the main reason that you’ve come to the cinema……..
Personally, I’m not afraid of dying – pain and suffering (for me and those I’ll leave behind) yes but not dying per se. Why? Well, partly it’s down to Terry Pratchett……
“The rider strode towards him, black cloak billowing and feet making little clicking noises on the cobbles. They were the only noises – silence clamped down on the square like great drifts of cotton wool. The impressive effect was rather spoilt by a patch of ice.
This is an excerpt from his wonderful book Mort and it describes the approach of Death; it was, quite simply, one of the funniest books I’ve ever read and, because of that I began to gain a different perspective; I mean, how could I be afraid of a being who loved curry and cats? Pratchett treated the character of Death and the subject itself with a impressive irreverence; this quote is part of a conversation between Death and a chap from the local Job Centre who’s trying to find him employment (long story):
““I USHERED SOULS INTO THE NEXT WORLD. I WAS THE GRAVE OF ALL HOPE. I WAS THE ULTIMATE REALITY. I WAS THE ASSASSIN AGAINST WHOM NO LOCK WOULD HOLD.
“Yes, point taken, but do you have any particular skills?”
However, this amazing author also used the character to impart his particular brand of wisdom on the Human condition:
“THAT’S MORTALS FOR YOU, Death continued. THEY’VE ONLY GOT A FEW YEARS IN THIS WORLD AND THEY SPEND THEM ALL IN MAKING THINGS COMPLICATED FOR THEMSELVES. FASCINATING.”
He had a point, don’t you think?
The same type of personification was used in the film Bill and Ted’s Bogus journey when the lead characters trapped by Death in the bowels of Hell. As is traditional, they had the right to challenge him and, if they won, they would gain their freedom………..they challenged him to a game of Battleships!
Let’s face it, whatever we do, we are all going to die one day. We can try to fight against it and worry about it but, come on, really, how will that serve us? It’s not as if a swift kick in the nuts is going to put him off is it? Well, not in the long term anyway:
You may say that I’m making light of death but what else are we supposed to do? I’ve suffered unbearably as a result of people I loved dying, I’m damned if I’m going to spend the rest of my life worrying about my own death, to quote Dave Lister in the superbly funny Red Dwarf:
“Everybody dies. You’re born, and you die. The bit in the middle’s called life, and that’s still to come!”