Sunday, October 30, 2011


Artwork by the author
“When the game is over, the king and the pawn go into the same box.”
-Italian Proverb

DEATH is one of—if not the only—the single most powerful word that man has come up with in its entire existence! It is used to define that of which we could measure—by pulse, and other medical machines—the tangent means, and those that is veiled in mystery. Death in this manner could be both finite and infinite. In the finite, Death is confined to the ceasing of heartbeat, the end of pulse, the termination of bodily functions, in this area people, regardless of religion, reach a unanimous acquiescence to.  While in the infinite, Death is regarded as a doorway: to heaven, to the Kingdom, to Olympus, to reincarnation, to hell, to Hades, and what have you.

The effect of this word has stirred the governing morals, philosophies, acts, policies, in different civilizations across time. It has remained a great influence amidst the ever changing pages of history. It is never outdated! It is used in so many ways: as a threat, to control, in religions, a cuss, as an ultimate form of sacrifice.  Death’s semantic power is lent to the entire human race no matter their stature is in society. 

I view Death in as much as the same manner that everyone does. I define it in its finite and infinite meanings—what it is in medical science, and in its literary and mystical connotations.

A friend mentioned the other day—the “game” I am responding to—that Death is one of my “loved” topics. And as I gawk in a nook where my mini library is, I could see that random titles are dedicated to its study. And having read, contemplated, and having seen, there is another definition of death that led me to realize that for the most part of my existence on this planet, that while I am here, I am nonetheless—DEAD!

I see dead people like me. They are on the streets, they attend concerts, they buy things, they eat, they sleep, they marry, they attend seminars, they work and earn hundreds to millions. They are everywhere. And yes they do not notice.

Sorry, I am no Casper and I do not have a third eye (or at least an active one). However, this form of death, this definition is both different and encompassing from the earlier two. Let me share it:

“Death is the inability of man to live.”

And yes, here, by taking this gist a lot of us died long before death could claim us. Our heart might beat, our chest might take in air, our mind sending synapses, and our organs in full functioning but here I ask: is this living? Is the ceasing of our heart’s beat, our one gasp of breath the final act of Death?

Some of us would readily embrace Death because out there another life awaits. After here, there is the reward, the rest, the repose, the vindication that we have prepared ourselves for. For others Death is the reset button or similar in pressing the ctrl-alt-delete keys simultaneously. Man feared death for centuries, but I say man feared Life more.

Why not? Life is filled with uncertainties—Changes. It is tainted by heartaches and betrayal. It is plagued by despair and humiliation. And the loneliness that lurks is as haunting as ever. The world in itself is bedeviled by these elements. So we hide in the shell of fear and regret. We cower from the madness and chaos that tests us. In turn, our dreams are abandoned because the road is dark and fogged. We give up our dreams because it’s impossible. We succumb to the lies of commonness in all the remaining sands in the glass. We trade Life for Safety and the Known, and this in turn injects us with fierce venom that kills us instantly. And here, the many dead are amongst us.

The third definition is by far the most lethal, the most excruciating, the longest, and at times contagious. But with this death, there is always the other side of the coin. With this we could always come back and live. And to be able to do so we need to realize and experience that Life, amidst the dark and unknown waters that we need to thread, is also unexpectedly beautiful.

And before we go to the graves of our love ones, light a candle before their names  etched on marble, perhaps it is only proper to ask ourselves: have I truly lived?

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