Are birth and death the two most important events? Yes! But why? Because they signify an entire life in between. By themselves, they don’t have a meaning. It is the life that lies in between that adds meaning to these two events. There are scores of mosquitoes, worms, and so many things that are born and die every single day. But we aren’t affected by those as much, at least emotionally, because their life in between didn’t have emotional or sentimental value or bonding with us.
The irony of life, however, is that we have paid paramount importance to these two events per se, and ignored the life in between, or taken it for granted. There have been times when I postponed meeting a friend. But the minute I got to know there was a death in their family, I made it a point to visit, despite all odds. It was ironic that something as big as death had to happen for me to make time. Could nothing less have motivated me to get myself there earlier?
We are ever ready to celebrate events, full of emotions to mourn death – but what happened to the life in between? Why does life have to be only about events and not the process?
When we get to know someone is dying, we completely change our behavior and perspective towards them. We suddenly become kinder, more compassionate, and this is the cherry – more available to them. Up until that point, we were too busy. But suddenly, with the same 24 hours still, we are able to find more time to be with them. How? Nothing else changed. Just an advanced invitation or intimation from death – and everything changed. Did we forget that they were going to die otherwise? We all know death. But we don’t realize it is so close. Or rather, we wish to ignore it for as long as we can, thinking if we ignore it long enough, it will not happen. Death is not like your friend who’ll feel bad because you ignored it. Death will come and do what it has to do, whenever it has to do, without any considerations for how busy you have been or how much you loved someone in your heart but couldn’t find the time to express it.
Rarely do we get an advanced intimation from it. Mostly it comes like an unannounced visitor and takes away someone we love or ourselves. But should we have to wait for an intimation or can we generally wake up each morning fully aware of the fact that death is impending and being grateful that we, and the people we love, have woken up today?
Some of us live like we are already dead. Some of the live in the fear or misery of someone’s death. Some of us live like we are forcing ourselves to be alive. Some of us act like we are alive. We fill our heads with all kinds of filth in the process. It’s the journey that makes the beginning and ends meaningful. If we aren’t able to appreciate and be a part of the journey, why bother in the ceremonies towards the end? Why speak to photos and ghosts, when we have an equal opportunity to speak to those who are still alive? At times, we are so busy mourning one death that we forget the rest of those who are still alive. Slowly, the rest keep dying too! And then we realize, we were so busy mourning death that we forgot to take notice of those alive. Now we regret that they are gone too! And that’s how the cycle goes of ‘mourning-regret-mourning’!! Life disappears!
Likewise, when there’s a newborn, there’s so much love and attention towards it. And then, in a matter of time, it becomes annoying, irritating, and tiring. So we start shouting, yelling, abusing. God forbid, if death drops its invite in advance to that little one, suddenly all the anger, tiresomeness, irritation magically disappears. And again we find ourselves with love and attention and great compassion. No one has to remind us of our name every day, right? Then why do we have to be reminded that we are alive and that we will die soon or someone will die? Can’t we remember and conduct ourselves accordingly?
Likewise, even a wedding. The amount of fanfare that is involved in a wedding these days is insane! I wonder if people would spend as much money, time and effort in organizing their life, as they would on wedding clothes and the rest of the fanfare. Are you missing out something? A wedding is important because it signifies the new life that two people are going to start for the rest of their life. By itself, a wedding ceremony has no value. Its value comes from the eager hearts that long to be together, and the families that get together to make new bonds for as long as they all shall live. But I don’t know how many relationships actually get compromised in making a ‘wedding’ happen!
If you are like me, who has made it a point to be a part of all important events like birth, marriage, and death, I think it’s now time to consider being a part of life too. Life is not all about some key events, recognitions, and success parties. The fact that we are still alive, calls for recognition. People shouldn’t wait for something to happen to them for us to recognize and pay attention to their existence. That’s perhaps the most disrespectful way of dealing with life! Life isn’t just to be remembered after death but to be recognized while alive.