A close friend of mine died unexpectedly this week. She was seemingly in good health and took care of herself carefully. She was young enough to assume that she had many years ahead of her. Yet that’s the thing. None of us knows whether we have a minute or years left. She could not know about or prevent a sudden aneurism and from one moment to the next, she was gone, her brain flooded and dissolving. There was too much damage to even begin repair. She was gone. Where to depends on religious and spiritual beliefs. Her material remains are already in the ground. Is there any more to her and, if so, where is that?
This could happen to any of us at any minute. We are a strange species. We are born and soon find out that life will be temporary, the dates of illness or death unknown to us. It is difficult enough to live with this knowledge for most of us and we try not to think about it too much. There are many strategies that we humans use in addition to denial, disconnection, belief in an afterlife, etc. and I do not need to list them as we all know them very well. In fact, it doesn’t really matter if you try to prepare or not. My friend was about to take an evening bath and I’m sure had other things on her mind. Her husband was in the living room reading a book. An ordinary evening, the quotidian.
Most of us live and die in the ordinary and not the famous or dramatic. We are a paradoxical species, capable of love and hate together or at different times, toward different people or the same one. Logic is not for us as much as we try to tame life with its use.
I am living in a peaceful country right now, Costa Rica. There are many odd habits to which I have grown accustomed over the years, as I was not born here. Politeness and consideration are two of them. The price you pay for this behavior is a sort of emotional distance. Now I return temporarily to the United States, which has become a hate filled and aggressive country since the recent coup and the acting President demonstrates the most vulgar side of humanity in public. His behavior is emulated by many who are not even his supporters. We threaten and shoot each other. We drop bombs on innocent civilians. Politics and hatred have become sports that replace baseball and football, which themselves are aggressive enough.
Right now someone is being born and someone else is being murdered or dying of illness or old age. At this very second, a new human being is being conceived. Someone is filled with hatred and someone else with love. Most of us with some of both. And we all know that we are beneath it all, waiting to die or waiting for someone to whom we have become attached to do so. What a species!