Warning: The has a lot of very minor bunny trails, I didn't really manage to stay on task the entire time.
Blame Sandy for this. I needed a topic and she provided a nice one. In her blog post, she established that life is fleeting, and the asked the purpose behind life.
I am a morbid person. I like to read morbid books. I like morbid sounding words. My favorite scenes in movies are the ones that make me squeal and dive for cover. Blood, gore, anything and everything that makes me gag. Why? Because it's reality. It shows the awful truth about how human nature is to be destructive and deadly. Life can be glorious and amazing and wonderful and everything, but is any life truly free from that dark, morbid reality?
Maybe I've mentioned it, but we were recently doing a unit in English on The Catcher in the Rye, by JD Salinger. Right now, I'd like to say that I flat out hate that book. Our major paper for that unit was to compare two people, Holden Caulfield – the main character because I'm refusing to use the prefix “pro” in reference to him – and Chris McCandless, a young man who traveled, unprepared and alone, to Alaska to try and escape reality and live in the “truth” of the world. As much as I disliked the book, I enjoyed that project because it provided a way for me to analyze how those two people viewed death.
McCandless feared it, but not enough that he did not stop his trip to Alaska. He was experienced enough to know the risks. The rangers who found his body say that he died because he mixed up two kinds of plants and ate something poisonous. They said that he threw away his life because he wanted to escape the false world. But was he really throwing away his life? Would he have been able to survive any better trapped in a world in which he saw immorality and violence and things he just thought were wrong?
From Caulfield, who is fictional while McCandless is not, we have a less experienced view on death. He says “I would've jumped out the window if I knew someone would be there to cover the body.” That's a rough paraphrase, I can't find the exact quote. Caulfield was so afraid of death that he couldn't take his own life, he simply could not. I think a lot of people are afraid of death. So, so, so afraid of death. And part of that is what makes death so fascinating is the almost omnipotent fear poured into it. And what lengths people will go to obtain immortality.
Immortality: what a huge literary can of worms. People long for it, fight for it, would do anything for it. That's one reason it can be used to effectiveness in science-fiction and fantasy stories. Most writers just make the elves immortal and that's it, which I think is pointless, but Stargate SG-1 presented a very interesting argument about the effects of longer life. In the episode – if you want, I'll find the title – an advanced alien race had come to Earth and provided the equipment and medicine needed to enhance the human life expectancy over two-hundred years. But such advancements came with the price of infertility. It was a very interesting moral dilemma which was really only raised, never addressed.
See, death is a really interesting topic because there's so much to discuss. During one lunch period, one of my friends was reading an article about how suicide should officially be made legal. In Global class and in lunch, whenever the topic is brought up, I feel like punching something so bad because no one understands how hefty the weight of a life is. Is the death penalty right? I think I shouldn't go into that now. Especially seeing as my whole Global class and at least a third of the people in fifth-period lunch think I've got very violent opinions on the death penalty.
I'm one of the people who believes that “death is just the next great adventure.” We were put on this Earth to steward God's creation, to care for the Earth and each other until he calls us home. In Philippians, Paul says: “For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain. If I am to go on living in the body, this will mean fruitful labor for me. Yet what shall I choose? I do not know! I am torn between the two: I desire to depart and be with Christ, which is better by far; but it is more necessary for you that I remain in the body.” ~ Philippians 1:21-23
Can I, personally, say that I don't fear death? No. I don't want to die. I don't want to leave this world, my cat, my stories, my family and my friends. What scares me most are the times I look at myself, really and truly look at myself, and think that I haven't placed enough of my life in God's hands.
There is no way I could take Paul's words from the first chapter of Philippians and apply them to my life. Maybe I want to go and be in heaven, but mentally and emotionally, I know that I am not prepared. I think a lot of what fascinates me about death is trying to figure out how and why Paul was so ready to go and be with Christ.
The more I think about this, the more my thoughts get interwoven and tangled into an unmanageable death. Unmanageable, what a strange looking word, especially lower case... Anyway, if in Philippians, we have that example of someone ready to go to heaven who still lingered on, how can we then compare it to Jesus and how, in the Garden of I-have-no-chance-at-being-able-spell-it, he asked for the cup, the suffering to be handed to someone else.
Recently, I heard a really interesting comparison between Jesus and Isaac. It was obvious, but before someone pointed out the connection between the two, I didn't see it. In science fiction, one of the common points is the military/political/social/whatever leaders won't ask their men to do something they aren't prepared to do themselves. God asked Abraham to sacrifice his son. God asked Abraham to sacrifice his son. God asked Abraham to sacrifice his son! And then God himself sacrificed his own son. But see, we, as mortal, ordinary people, don't face this kind of sacrificial atonement when we die; that sacrifice has been paid.
Part of me is excited about death, most of me is reluctant, and there's a little part of me that curious. Death. You know, people are so fascinated about the topic of death and it's so integral into the topic of life. It's one of the reasons I hate abortion; it's killing people who haven't yet had the chance to live. And that's wrong.
I don't know, maybe I'm just repeating common knowledge or what I've been told by other people. But have I made any sense here? Have I achieved anything? I don't even know what point I tried to make anymore.