We are the only of earth´s creatures who bury their dead. Prior to that eventful act we are each destined to experience each of us exists in a unique subjective state. It´s a simple anthropic principle; the ordering of one´s world in line with one´s needs. One´s own importance is the supreme law of the land. Consider the person who drives from Los Angeles to San Francisco with the Pacific ocean on the left. Returning from San Francisco to Los Angeles the Pacific Ocean is on his right. He has turned the world completely around to suit his needs. Death, as diverse as it is ubiquitous, will change all that. Death happens in a split second. A few of us live to be 100 years old. Others fall victims to senseless accidents. Catastrophes of nature take their toll. Disease is everpresent. Many make choices in life that inevitably lead to that fateful apex. I have escaped the Reaper´s fearsome grasp more than once. It is impossible to know when the end will occur, or why at that particular moment. On my recent trip to the Guatemalan jungle I lay awake one night listening to the persistent loud sounds of life outside the door of my bungalow. Guests are forbidden from leaving their rooms after 9PM because of the creatures hunting for food. Jaguars, snakes and other wild things are engaged in an ageless battle of life and death. It has always been so. We all feed on death. From the largest predators to the tiniest, we all must eat. The ancient Mayans worshiped gods of Life and Death, recognized the inevitability and made it a gory central part of everyday life celebrating ritual human sacrifice. Modern humans have sanitized death. We have sanitized inflicting death on others. Yet, when death becomes personal, the loss of a loved one affects so many of those individuals who loved and cared for and miss deeply the person who is no longer there. Perhaps that is what makes our species unique, the sense of loss and profound pain that seems as if it will never go away.
Some Thoughts on Death … And Life
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