My Viewpoint on Death

A good friend of mine named E. posted on his blog not too long ago and he asked a very poignant question regarding people’s thoughts on death.  I thought it was worth answering as I am a thirty-something year old man who has thought a lot about life and the crazy directions that it can take.  I won’t gush over something like this. Death is something that so few of us really talk about in an open and honest way, even when someone we know or love passes on.

 

I thought you all might like to read my answer to his question.  I didn’t realize how strong my feelings were on the subject until I wrote them.  It’s funny how that can happen…

 

E. –

 

This is actually a really good question.  I’ve thought about it a lot more as I’ve become a thirty something, looked back over my life for the last decade or so and realized that I want to change it into something totally different.

 

When I was a kid, I used to think of death as a step in a “choose your own adventure” novella. I was brought up Catholic, and the idea of death that was presented to me was very simple. Death was simply the moment where God would judge what you had done with your life. If he deemed that you were good enough, you would be allowed into a place that offered eternal paradise and peace. If he deemed you evil, than you would be cursed to an eternity of fire and brimstone. You COULD end up somewhere in the middle (Purgatory), but the priests at my local church didn’t recommend that either.

 

But I had issues with a God that allowed rape, murder. and DEATH to some people who were so young and so good and didn’t deserve those things. I also took issue with a God who allowed bad people to live into their eighties and nineties without so much as a howdy do!

 

And I was an angry kid when it came to my autistic brother. I just didn’t understand why GOD would curse someone like that, and then inflict him upon an already turbulent family.

 

I lost my faith before I hit puberty. Prayer didn’t help, and I felt alone all the time even when I was surrounded by people.

 

Skip ahead to my college years. I was in my twenties, I was dating, I was reaping the benefits of a higher education thanks to the standardized testing that once again set me apart from everyone else. But college was different. I finally got to meet people who were inquisitive and intelligent like I am. But I was also away from home, and the rules were my own to make or to break as I saw fit. I felt invincible, really. By my senior year, I was convinced that death was simply a state of mind. I watched friends of mine get so stoned all the time that they essentially killed the spark of life that used to be in their eyes. No longer were they the intelligent, active, creative people that I had gotten to know. To me, THAT was death.

 

These days, I believe that to somehow forget to live while you’re still on this earth is Hell, but it isn’t death

 

Now in my thirties, I have forced myself to prioritize what my life goals really are. I have learned some painful lessons along the way about life, love, and the bonds of family. I watched a ten year relationship of mine finally fall apart because the two of us could no longer be in love with the IDEA of each other. I watched family ties get broken and then rebuilt in those ten or so years. I am home now, and I am still struggling with the notion that blood could ever be thicker than water. I am also in the process of fulfilling my ultimate dream to be a writer, something that I virtually eliminated from my life for the ten years I was with my ex.

 

When someone asks me what death means to me now, I tell them that death is simply an equalizer. Everyone fucking dies.

 

There’s a famous movie quote that I often paraphrase in my head that pretty much declares that the only two things that one must deal with in this world are death and taxes. The person to whom this is uttered is a gangster that says,”I don’t pay taxes.”

 

Death simply reminds me that there are still “miles to go before I sleep,” and I want to make those miles the most beautiful part of my life. My end goal, really, is to leave this world better place than it was when I first entered it.  But I want to do it my way.  I want to bring my own creativity into the mix, to entertain people and give them a means by which to escape the mundane, the terrifying or the overwhelming aspects of their own lives. I want to allow people to delve into a fictional world of my own creation (if only for a little while). And I am not without ego. I want to be known for my ability to do it. If I can make a decent living doing it, so much the better. Maybe I want to know what it’s like to live in an actual house someday by the beach, listening to the waves crash against the shore as I come up with my next insane piece of writing.

 

But most of all, I want to reclaim the love that was stripped from me as a youth. I want to rise from the ashes as a powerful Phoenix and soar unto the heavens, graceful, beautiful, and proud. And I want to share that with people that I actually give a damn about rather than pretending that certain people in my life have done more for me than they actually have. Death strips you of all those concerns, and maybe it is, as some would claim, the ultimate liberation. But I’m not about to suicide to get rid of the pain that still remains in my heart. There’s still too much to do, too much to live for. There are still streets in my own city that I have not fully explored. I still have people to reach out to. I have finally begun to allow love to melt the ice that occasionally threatens to reform around my heart. I will put down my sword and pick up a pen, a laptop, or a special someone’s hand….

 

I still have too many stories to tell the world.

 

-Mr. Drummer

 

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