Making A Good Innings
Our fear of dying persuades us that life must be clung
to for as long as medical science can keep it going.
This fears makes it a clear-cut objective to live until
our bones creak and our brains become utterly useless.
We are so frightened of dying that even when our bodies
have become a hopeless burden to ourselves and others,
we cannot bear to give them up.
Death has to be dressed up in chocolate-box imagery and
'soft' words before we will even talk about it. We blunt
the fear and apprehension of coming to the end of our
lives, by describing, for example, the person who has
arrived at the age of ninety, in a cricketing metaphor--
we congratulate him on "a good innings" as if death is a
leg-break or a full toss, that the worst he can expect is
a slow walk back to the pavilion.
Similarly, the person who fails to make fifty is seen as
a tragic figure by those whose fear of death is so acute
that bed-wetting, social alienation, confusion and distress
are to be welcomed more than the silence of the grave.
Two members of my family, my father and my wife, both died
in their fifties, whilst my mother struggled on--and it
was a struggle--till her eighty-eighth year. I have therefore
had the opportunity to observe young and old death at
close range. I wouldn't claim to be an expert on either,
but for me, dying while a spark remains is preferable to
arriving at death's door with the personality completely gone.
What is badly needed, for our greater appreciation of life
whilst we have it as much as anything else is a shift away
from the terror that death, even in its mildest form,
represents to us. We need to step back several paces from it,
and view it as the inevitable consequence of having been born.
We need to eliminate as much as possible the fear that it
arouses within us, for fear enslaves the mind and limits our
ability to think calmly and rationally.
Because however way we look at this subject, and look at it
we must, fear of death is irrational. Nothing that is natural
to the existence of any living creature should be regarded
as terrible. The panic that it arouses is created within
ourselves by our imaginations, and not, it seems to me, by
anything that we may or may not encounter as we depart this
Fear of death forces us into strange alliances, with
faith-healers and psychic wise-guys whose simplistic answers
to our anxious questions are all too comforting and plausible
and glib to contain any substance.
Fear of death drives us into the clutches of those who
know how to profit from that fear, who will, for money,
offer us an existence beyond the present one which contains
none of the awful sorrows and illnesses and uncertainties
associated with the life experience. The purpose of
this strange place is never convincingly explained. It is
described in vague terms as being 'our reward for being
good in this life'. It sounds dreary beyond words, and
I reject its existence totally.
Fear of death probably cannot be conquered totally.
Nor should it be, because a splinter of fear, a dash of
uncertainty, sharpens the appreciation of what goes on
in our lives today. What we need to do is accommodate the
reality of eventual non-existence into our thought
processes. We must start adjusting our minds as soon
as we feel confident enough to take that first step, to
what will one day become the absolute and inescapable
certainty, that we shall die and leave this earth. Only
by conquering this fear will our minds be liberated, and
only then will we appreciate fully the life which we are
so lucky to have.
|Posted: February 14, 2005 , Modified: February 18, 2005|