Thinking About Death

Do you ever start thinking about something, and then randomness keeps reminding you of it?

Its happening to me as we speak, over the last few days actually.  Morbidly enough, the topic is death.  I think I know what started it: I somehow watched the awful, painful, tragic video leaked over 2 years ago of the beheading of American citizen, Nicholas Berg.  No link, because I wouldn’t wish watching it on anyone.  It almost made me physically sick.

Then, I caught this link from the Daily Dish showing last pictures ever taken of people before their death.  From Elvis and Hitler to Princess Di and a couple killed by a tsunami.

Now in my Torts class we have arrived upon the topic of “Wrongful Life,” whereupon a child born with some disability is allowed to sue a doctor if that doctor negligently failed to diagnose a birth defect thereby depriving the child’s parents of the option of aborting the fetus.  In other words, the child sues for negligence asserting that they should not have been born.  No life was preferable to their life of pain and suffering, or so they claim.  Yes, it is allowed in some jurisdictions. 

These images have been running through my head for a few days now.  I look at the ‘last pictures’ and wonder what was going through their minds.  The terrorist tape replays in my head and Nicholas Berg’s face floats to the surface, kneeling on the ground as the terrorists make their demands in Arabic…unaware that in a few moments they will kill him.  And then I imagine the child who sues because he should not have been born.  Thinking of the child not wanting to be born makes me think of the dear friend I lost this year.  Lately, I’ve been thinking about how this Thanksgiving he will not meet at my house and walk with me on my family’s Broadway barcrawl.  I’m reminded of last year’s barcrawl, how he and I left early because we both wanted to sleep at the same time.  And how I had no idea we’d never be able to do it again.

Ultimately, this leads me to the big picture questions that everyone thinks about occasionaly and no one can answer.  If this life is it, if there is nothing else, if we are here because of a Big Bang and luck of molecular combination, then all of these things seem unbelievably sad.  Too sad to thing about for long. 


There is no real point to this post except I wanted to write about this little stream of thought and remember it years from now.  

6 thoughts on “Thinking About Death

  1. “If this life is it, if there is nothing else, if we are here because of a Big Bang and luck of molecular combination, then all of these things seem unbelievably sad. Too sad to thing about for long.”

    I can’t help but to agree that there’s a good bit of tragedy in the finite nature of it all. As a counterpoint, however, I’d offer an interesting quote that’s stuck in my head for awhile now. It comes, of all places, from the movie Troy. I know: not exactly the paragon of quality/intelligent entertainment, but I found this one quote pretty significant all the same.

    It’s Achilles (oh Brad Pitt…) talking about a way in which mortals have it better than the Gods:

    “I’ll tell you a secret. Something they don’t teach you in your temple. The Gods envy us. They envy us because we’re mortal, because any moment might be our last. Everything is more beautiful because we’re doomed. You will never be lovelier than you are now. We will never be here again. ”

    Perhaps the finite nature of life is precisely what makes us cherish it all so much. And perhaps why its end is so tragic: because it’s duration is so much more significant and meaningful when we know it won’t last indefinitely.

  2. I have been thinking about him all day today. Today is 7 months and I don’t know when it will get easier. Life just isn’t like it was 7 months ago. I miss him.

  3. When I think about things like this, I tend to think as Blair (and, by extension Brad Pitt/Achilles) does. We know we’re going to die. It’s not just a possibility, no faith is required to believe it: we all will pass. Why wouldn’t that make every bite of food taste better, every moment of laughter greater? It’s all ours right now, and death makes that matter.
    It’s a hedonistic take on death, but I’d be lying if I said that it wasn’t a large part of what drives me.

  4. Wow. Blair (and Brandon), I never thought I would thank someone for quoting Brad Pitt or Achilles, but thanks. Honest.

    Your take on this makes sense, and it helped shake me out of the cycle of logic that kept replaying in my own head. Oh the power of blog communication.

    As a continuation: I can see how the finite nature of all it all “should” increase the quality of one’s life, but what do you do to actually make it so? If only we had the opportunity to be immortal for a bit, and then come back, in order to experience the difference first-hand.

  5. It’d certainly be interesting to see~ one of those “grass is always greener” Catch-22s.

    I’m not sure I could pin down any one overarching thing that I do that increases the quality of what time I have, but I can definitely think of a bunch of smaller ones.

    One in particular: procrastination

    Some people have this complex and get all offended if a friend suggests they’re a procrastinator. I see people sensitive to that word particularly now in law school, as we all fashion ourselves these driven students ya know? For me, it’s quite the contrary, I readily admit of it, but with a caveat: it’s a conscious, educated decision most every time that I feel justified in making. It all ties back really to how I approach life in general after fighting through an earlier part of my life riddled with depression: love life, the person I am, and the people around me and soak it all in when it’s there to soak. If that means I fall a little behind in school work or whatever else because I get to have an amazing day on the town with with my friends/family/significant other/ etc, then fine: procrastinating the hw sounds wonderful to me. And if that means I’ll just have to operate on a little less sleep to make up the difference… well, I’m ok with that. And you know what? I think that’s the kind of stuff that really makes life better~ getting swept up in something, putting something else off so you can just… soak.

    I’m sure there’s other things like that that I do in my day to day that makes the quality of it all better, but that was first to mind.

  6. Very interesting thoughts on procrastination. It is persuasive.

    In the end, its all about priorities, right? From your description, I wouldn’t even call your approach procrastination. You simply value certain interactions/experiences over others. Not doing homework is justified when it is replaced by something that is valued even more. Because in the end we are always putting something off for something else. It’s a constant until we die.

    Actually, the more I think about it, the more I realize the decrease in quality of life created by the stigma of ‘procrastination.’ Just imagine how many people put off things that they would rather do only because they feel obligated or feel perpetual guilt when they do engage in their preferred activities. Obviously, there must be some limits, and we shouldn’t be too hedonistic. But in the end, I think you are onto something.

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