“Perhaps the whole root of our trouble, the human trouble, is that we will sacrifice all the beauty of our lives, will imprison ourselves in totems, taboos, crosses, blood sacrifices, steeples, mosques, races, armies, flags, nations, in order to deny the fact of death, the only fact we have.” ~James Baldwin
Our only God is the fact that we are going to die. Our only Heaven or Hell is what we create with our life, between birth and death. Our only power is how we utilize our own entropy. Everything else is smoke and mirrors. Everything other than Death is a false God.
As Emil Cioran said, “Everything is a mask that is not death.”
And yet we balk. We lose ourselves in our masks. We turn away from God. Afraid of the sheer magnitude of infinity, we shrivel up into our finitude. We lose ourselves in the mundane and profane, while sacrificing the sacred and the beautiful.
We cloak ourselves in delusions: flags, nations, religions. We play finite games (beer pong, marriage, prayer) while ignoring the only Infinite Game there is: Life. And all because we fear to face the “only true fact we have”: Death.
As Dr. Alexander Lowen said, “The challenge to modern man is to reconcile the antithetical aspects in his personality. On the body level he is an animal, on the ego level a would-be god. The fate of the animal is death, which the ego in its godlike aspirations is trying to avoid. But in trying to avoid this fate man creates an even worse one, namely, to live in fear of life.”
We’re paradoxical beings torn between flesh and spirit, finitude and infinity, wormhood and godhood. We cannot help but stretch our wings despite our earthbound roots. Death is our parenthesis. It is both our prison and our escape hatch.
Nothing is easier than death. Nothing is harder than life. And living a full life is harder still. But nothing is worse than ignorance to death at the expense of life. Nothing is worse than pretending to be asleep. Here are four ways to stop pretending…
“Much of our lives are spent running from our own shadow. The denial of death and the division of the human soul go together.” ~John Gray
“Those who cling to life die, and those who defy death live.” ~Kenshin
“To be idle is a short road to death and to be diligent is a way of life; foolish people are idle, wise people are diligent.” ~The Buddha
“Death smiles at us all; all we can do is smile back.” ~Marcus Aurelius