As a species, it is no surprise that we have become quite attuned to our own mortality. We understand life, despite continuously wrestling with existence, and we seem to have a solid grasp on the concept of death.
Death, as far as we can tell, is the foreseeable end. Various global religions would have us believe otherwise – that there are afterworlds, which exist to pamper (or torment) our souls for eternity. This is on faith, which is a system that we have no way to measure or quantify, so we do not truly know or understand what lies beyond physical death, but we understand what lies before it. It is that ‘end of the road’, that every living human can see coming, but our depth perception does not grasp. When is it coming? How? Where? Many of these questions we do not, and cannot, know until we’re slamming on the brakes in a futile attempt to delay the inevitable by seconds, weeks, or months.
And then it’s upon us. Death. Something everyone experiences once. In some exceptions, some people can experience this multiple times. Surgeries and traumatic incidents can render one medically dead for seconds, minutes, or even hours.
In actuality, however, every one of us dies frequently from a myriad of different vantage points, often unbeknownst to our own perceptions. Be it a form of philosophical demise or simply the progression of our own physical entropy, death is not only all around us, but always occurring inside of us.
For instance, in the amount of time it takes me to type, ‘I am what I am’, the am that I was might not be the am that I am. How is this possible? Our personal mantras are constantly bombarded by external influences – the media, the news, personal experiences, friends, peers, family, and other role models. They are in a perpetual state of flux, where the liveliest of conversations on any myriad of topics could result in a gunfight, where one’s governing values are assassinated for want of new grounds – all the result of mere knowledge exchange between individuals.
Similar to this is the demise of one’s dreams and goals – we’ll call this aspirational death. It is not that we aspire to die; rather, we die as we aspire. Everyone, at some point, has had this happen. I was 16 when I realized my goal of an academic career in Atmospheric Science was dying when I was floundering in grade 11 Chemistry, and I know my dreams of winning it big in the lottery are vanquished weekly, but are always replaced by new aspirations. You may or may not recognize the changes within you, but these acts of demise, although mental, change who you are and who you will be. Thus, the person I was when those dreams and goals were vibrant and living is no longer with us; they have deceased with their aspirations.
All of this aside, however, even if your philosophies or aspirations have not changed, thousands of cells inside of your body have died or are in the process of doing so. You are, physically, a new person whether or not your mind perceives it.
Each of us, and everything around us, is in an almost constant state of death and experience it through silent episodes an immense number of times over the course of our lives. We all have personal cemeteries, which we are quietly filling and will continue to do so until we join it ourselves. Buried with our hopes and dreams is a fitting way to leave this world for whatever beckons beyond the shroud. Whether physical or philosophical entropy, it is entropy nonetheless.
The Egyptians must have had it correct by treating their feline companions as such revered, and sometimes divine, creatures. Although unrelated, cats are said, jokingly, to have nine lives. As we are far more evolved than the average feline, it would only make sense that, if they have to die nine times to physically leave us, we should expect to experience it far more often within ourselves while waiting to finally expire.
I have experienced
while waiting to die –
dreams and aspirations
litter my cemetery.