Human beings have been faced in times past with two immutable random facts, we have no power over when we are born and we have no power over the stroke of death. The first remains immutable, without consideration to #abortion and the second has caused much controversy because man has decided to claim death on his own terms.
I’ve imagined being in pre-embryonic stage and being shown the world’s timeline. A voice says, “choose when you wish to be born.” If I was given that choice I would skip the wars, slavery, Hitler, large earthquakes and hurricanes. If given the choice some periods in our history would remain unpopulated so I accept the randomness of birth. I accept some children will be born to Ebola with little hope of lasting a week; some will be born to royalty, to be pampered and spoiled, some rich, some very poor and most to average ‘Joes’ all over the world. I accept it because I haven’t been able to figure out a more logical solution to the selection of births and it has been proven that persons from the most humble beginnings can excel. Whether by force, spirituality, grace, sheer determination or dumb luck, there is an obvious leveling of the playing field that the universe offers to those who dare it.
So the first immutable fact has never weighed heavy on my mind. The second however keeps me in a quandary. Death makes us equal, we must all face it and there is no getting away from it.
When I was younger I found an old book in my school library which spoke of a brave man. A general, who was considered a military genius and extraordinary battle strategist: He was described as a man of all men, powerful, fearless and strong, a leader who men died for willingly, yet Hannibal #Barca died at his own hand. The question of suicide had long been a non-issue in my pubescent world because everyone knows if you kill yourself you won’t go to heaven. Didn’t Hannibal #Barca know that? Not only did this man kill himself but he planned it methodically. He carried a vial of poison on his person for years and no one said to him. “Hey, you need to wait for the Romans to kill you, you can’t kill yourself dude. It’s just not done.” It would take me years to figure out each era has its own rules and Hannibal Barca in his time was considered a revolutionary hero would refused to be captured by his arch enemies and died a heroes death, much like most men in battle who fell on their sword instead of being taken alive. So did that mean that there were didn’t levels of suicide? Were some types of suicide accepted while others are not?
At some point in time someone very high up, I assume someone very religious or very Kingly said, these bloody people keep killing themselves out instead of paying their taxes, let’s make it a rule that if you commit suicide you won’t go to heaven. Ahhhhhha! Deliberate socialization around an aforementioned premise to affect a conditioned response – grow old and pay your taxes diligently. Okay, maybe it was meant to be more caring response. Hoping persons understood the value of life because life is a gift and it should be cherished.
I always say a gift is given but it is also accepted, it’s has to be mutual giving and taking for the gift to be remain a gift. If there is any force or bullying, it becomes a curse. So suicide becomes that state of mind where you don’t want the gift anymore. #freedomofchoice is a hell of a thing; most people including me would say freedom of choice is a good thing but… There is always a ‘but’, because there are one or two things that we would rather dictate. Women should be free to vote: girls should be free to go to school regardless of where they were born; everyone should be free to marry whoever they want; all men should be free to live wherever they want; abortion is a freedom, but freedom stops at suicide. No one says a person should be free to take their own life; it’s akin to self violence. Man fights his self and wins, but dies. #PaulWalker died in a car crash last year and #RobinWilliams committed suicide this year, the stroke of death came differently but the end result was the same.
Is it death that we fear or is it the stroke of death? There seems to be acceptable versions of the end that we who are alive can live with until our time comes. The dead don’t worry about death, they’ve already faced it. It is the living who ponders on it, bends it and shapes it until it is something that makes us comfortable with the concept.
I personally feel persons who are diagnosed with life-threatening diseases and are given e.g. two months to live should also be given a death pill as an option. Put your house in order, buy your own casket, invite persons to your funeral, hear all the good things before you go and then go to sleep and never get up. Actually, I may go even further and say if you reach a certain age the pill should be a gift like pension. You keep your options open. It seems to be a fitting end for a life well spent. You ride off in the sunset on your terms, with a smile on your face. No one looks forward to death, but seeing that it is inevitable anyway, why not plan for it? Why not claim it as a life event? The way we plan weddings and birthdays; you saved to buy a house, why not get the nicest casket on the block, engrave your name on it and make sure it’s painted in your favorite color. You can even paint it yourself, give it that personal touched. Not to mention the cemetery plot, I would like to be close to the road under a tree. How about you?
We face death so cowardly, weren’t we expecting it?
Today we get to wait on cancer to us strip under ninety pounds, killing us slowly while we support the medical profession. Then there’s the big ones’ like Ebola, Malaria and all the other deadly strains you can catch. If that doesn’t get you then there’s the weather hurricanes, floods, earthquakes and tornadoes, we are all fair game when it comes to the weather. Then there’s the sophisticated death that entails a drug overdose or a yachting accident. The most lethal for me would be the drunk driver on the cell phone, who smashes your car, throws you out of it and leaves you dying on the highway; it’s a fatal combination usually not for the driver himself but for everyone he hits. Let’s not forget the fool who doesn’t want to work his way up and enters your home on a random Saturday night; who robs, rapes and kills for the price of a second hand bicycle. If you are not white then your potential death list gets longer depending on where you live because it will include law enforcement officers and crossing someone’s territory with a grin. Not to mention if you are a woman, not covering your head or eating with a fork in some countries have reported to bring deadly wrath. My recent favorite remains you are on your way to a Conference to help end the deathly epidemic of AIDs and some idiot shoots your plane down and your body lands in some field on the ten o’clock news. No one is afraid of death by sharks, snakes or lions anymore and growing old looks like a luxury most of us wouldn’t reach.
So if you have had the pleasure of that luxury why not plan for it, celebrate the fact that you unlike so many other people have a chance to die your way. Death is still the most uncomfortable conversation in the room and it’s because we don’t really want to die. We don’t want our loves ones to die. It’s such a bitch. Yes, you can admit it and the grim reaper isn’t going to haunt you for thinking it. I do not wish to die and even more than that I do not wish to die by some random circumstance that does not speak to the wonderful person that I am.
Nevertheless, I am quite sure I’m not getting out of this life alive and wishful thinking will only get me thus far.
With so many possibilities for death, why consider suicide especially if you are already old. Robin William’s suicide was a surprise not so much because of the death but his age. You assume if someone has lived that long they have overcame enough to deal with anything and you take their depression for granted. I think there should be a special category called “creative depression.” When you ask your mind to do a balancing act everyday with different characters and voices, there’s comes a time when your heart internalizes it and it becomes real to you, in such a passionate way that you can’t be human and not be affected. I have also noticed the best comedians have moments of pure insights into humanity and I can’t say if that’s good or bad. They can go full circle from humor to dread. It should be classified as more than depression because it really is. When you reach a certain age you need grandchildren or an orphanage to entertain. You give of yourself and in-turn they keep your mind active and distracted, but I digress.
The universe is full of unanswered questions and most of them suck.
The question is what do you do when you feel like it’s your time to go and you want to go but the parameters of civilization does not allow it. Your family won’t talk about it, your religion forbids it and everyone starts giving you labels; “depressed,” “crazy.”
Well I hope you have at least one person you can turn to and I am sure that one person will give you the incentive to live on. I think death by self should only be contemplated if you are a happy man. There should be no remorse or regret. It shouldn’t be a dreary end but a party which celebrates all that you were, all that you brought to the world. Everyone who hears your story should say, “I’m so happy for him.” That’s the test of most things whether you can see your individuality in the choices you make and inspire others. Everything else is slow death.