I had to laugh at myself. I finished that long post on fear yesterday and carefully tapped danced around the ultimate fear, our fear of death. So if you will stay with me, I’d like to address that fear today.
We have lots of euphemisms for death. A recent movie, in fact, alluded to one, “kick the bucket.” Please! Are we cows? Cancer becomes the “Big C.” We don’t bury someone, we “inter” them.
It is no wonder that kids get a little confused. “Grandpa has gone on a long trip.” Where? When is he coming back?
We joke about death with Gallows humor. I was working for the brokerage industry when the Challenger space shuttle exploded. I don’t think it was five minutes before some really irreverent jokes were up on our internal wire service, flying back and forth across the country.
Why do we do this, I wonder? Maybe because it is the unknown that nobody has conquered. Nobody, that we know of, has come back to tell the tale. Cartographers in early times used to scribe pictures on their maps at the ends of the known earth, saying “Dragons be here.” Maybe we are afraid of facing our own dragons.
As I have grown older, death is a more frequent companion. I have buried two sets of parents and realized that I am now the eldest in our family line. I watch my contemporaries attempt to ward off aging, and ultimately death, with Botox and hip replacements and frantic Pilate classes. This Baby Boomer generation will definitely not be going ‘gentle into that good night.’ After all, 60 is now the new 40.
I look at religion, but have not found a good fit, as yet. The Fertile Crescent big three: Islam, Judaism, Christianity were all founded in a tradition of patriarchy that confines and limits me. Perhaps it is my feminism rising, but I do not find comfort in a religion that relegates women to at best a second class status or at worst, to that of a chattel. Not my style.
Wicca seems just too woo woo for me, as well. Like playing princess only with black dresses.
So I look farther afield to Buddhism. The belief there is that reincarnation is a result of holding on to life, that we are afraid to let go, and thus our suffering passes as a spark to the next lifetime. But without awareness of the past lives. I find that sad.
I can go with a more philosophic approach and embrace the existential Four Givens. The belief there is that facing our fear of death gives meaning to our day-to-day existence. That our very finitude makes life worthwhile. I like that, but it doesn’t shed much light on what comes after.
Are we like a lava lamp? We separate from the Big Blob, float around in the light for a while and then settle back down into the darkness? I hope not!
I think at present where I come out is with Gaia. I’ve written about Gaia before. That concept of an infinite awareness that expresses itself in many forms. I would like to believe that this existence is just one step of an infinite many.
That in the next existence we could look back on our humanness as the ‘terrible twos’ of yet another way of being. And that as the memory of being human faded, as a dream, we could awaken to new light of a new life.
That’s what I think about death.