Halloween was about getting at peace with the Dead. Now it’s mostly about making fun of our fear of Death. (Post forecast: gloomy with a chance of sunshine.)
Does the Big Unavoidable make YOU freeze or feast? Because it matters.
We all know the history of Halloween, Samhain, and related celebrations. I won’t bore you with that.
However, wise peeps now dead and now living agree that what drives our culture and has shaped all civilisations is, in fact, little mortal us coping with our inevitable death.
Yes. Inevitable. Not perfume. All signs point to Death.
The last Taboo.Food for thought: the original vampire lore has it that you trade your soul for the immortality of your body, not your convenient sexy True Blood version. Would You?..
Rumours of death
Like all living things, we have a shelf life, but unlike other living things, we are cursed with the skill to brood about it.
I’m really not original here: as a kid who suddenly grasped the horrific idea she was going to die, I was absolutely terrified to say the least.
I asked my mother, she didn’t want to discuss it.
My father said “when I’m here, there’s no death; when death comes, I won’t be there”.
My teacher said “it’s for sure unpleasant – but it will only happen once”.
How very helpful of you, though the 5 y.o. me.
First encounter with death
nothing but a word of the parakeet)
…As my blue parakeet is solemnly buried in the lush green garden, mum and I cry our eyes out and want to buy a dog.
Dad shakes his head with dissent: “Just imagine how you two will cry when your beloved dog dies?”
Dogs of the race in question live for about 15 years. Fifteen!
I am 11.
Fifteen years?! That time will never come!
Fast forward 5 years; my father dies.
Outlived by the dog.
Fast forward mourning time: life looks pretty pointless.
So you struggle, you maybe create a heritage that means nothing in the big scheme of things, and then you die.
With nightmares like this, who needs dreams?
We all cope with our understanding of death and “life after death” in one way or another. Our very culture is designed to deal with it, to numb the knowledge, to outsmart death, to trick ourselves, to support our morals as we go on.
High-risk sports, dangerous experiments, hazardous adventures are just the other side of the Halloween coin, of our superstitious beliefs, and yes, even of our religious creed.
We strive to understand and to know, as human beings. But death, death’s just final.
We fear death, as we always fear the unknown.
No one ever returned to report – there is simply a lack of scientific proof of what’s going on after the big “fin”.
So in dealing with the Inevitable the only valid, the only real choice we have, apart from making fun of our fear, is to decide, what do we choose for motivation:
Live to the fullest or wait for the end?
Love for life or fear of death?
While the answer, I’m afraid, as always is a shaky balance in the middle, I believe that in the end, we get what we believe in.
This is the big mystery. The biggest joke of all.
And so I want to believe that a good life, a life of honest decisions, a life well-lived does not leave any room for regret.
This is the Ultimate Reason to make the right decisions and to be who you are meant to be.”
If you are likely to laugh at becoming mulch, watch Mr J. Whedon’s Wesley College commencement speech.
It’s well worth your time, like so many things penned by Mr. W.
As for the initial question and the “food for thought” fact – since immortality is not an option, it doesn’t matter what you would do to obtain it.
The only thing that does matter is how powerfully, beautifully, ethically you live this life if the worst case is that it’s the only shot.