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Death: Life’s final lesson

As a child I had a pet hamster, named spot, not a terribly creative name but what do you expect form a 5 year old. The hamster was brown with a little white spot of fur on its eye. I had desperately wanted a pet and my parents at the time would only let me have a hamster. So I did what any child would do with an animal. I bonded with it. Spot and I would go everywhere, rather I took him everywhere. It was only a year later when I woke up to find that my hamster was still asleep. Little did I know though that he was dead.

Death, is perhaps one of the most difficult things for us to learn. Primarily because it happens to every living thing. One may think that a child’s first pet is actually their first pet; but it is actually one of the first ways a child will typically learn about death. Parents may try to sugar coat the death of that first animal. They may say that Spot has gone up to heaven with all of the other hamsters. The sad reality is no one knows what happens when we die. It really becomes a matter of faith and belief. Some people believe that we are judged when we die and we will go to either heaven or hell. Others believe we will be reincarnated again to live life and learn its lessons. Then there are those that say nothing happens when you die; you just die.

The dance of death affects everyone, the rich, the poor, the healthy, and the sick. Even many religious icons have died at one point or another. Some of the most lively moments in one’s life such as orgasm are often referred to as the “little death”. This is because orgasm is one of the few states of the body where it just “lets go”. What about death though has made humans so fascinated ? Death can come about even when the body has sustained minimum damage. Minimum damage in that 80-100% of the body could still remain in tact.

Death has so mesmerized humans through time that it has received numerous personifications. These personifications are the grim reaper, Hades, Anubis, Samael the angel of death in Judaism, and Azrael in in islam, adn that is just a few of the faces of death. Each one of them is an embodiment of the human fear for death. Death is one of the most terrifying of things if for no other reason than we have no control over it. We can’t say when or where we will die, it is all up to chance. However there are a few that would give a glimmer of hope into a fearless death. I don’t speak of heroes, or religious zealots. I refer to some buddhists, who are able to consciously choose when they are able to die. These buddhist monks have been able to postpone death until they are ready. A truly conscious individual is able to be aware when their life force is waning and can accordingly choose when they die.

No matter what our thoughts are on death it is the one universal truth. All things must come to an end. We can go willingly or kicking and screaming, but in the end we all go. They say that all of life is just preparing one for death. Is the lesson of life to learn and accept death or is the true meaning of life to inevitably die? The death of my hamster was when I learned about death. It was not until I was bout nine though when I realized its implications. I was in a department store with my mother. She was looking at clothes and then I just started to cry. My mother had no idea why I was upset. I was crying because I thought to myself what if I was a fox once and I died? Why can’t I remember being a fox? What if I die now and I can’t remember me? Rather profound thoughts for a 9 year old. It was the fear of losing my conscious self that terrified me. No more awareness no more life.

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