Facing Death While Living Life


While reading my favorite magazine in the November 8th (p. 30) issue of The Week, I came across an article which, among many others, caught my attention. Its title was Defiantly Boisterous Tel Aviv. The author of the article, Raphael Kadushin, reminisces about his trip to Tel Aviv by stating: If Jerusalem is Israel’s “venerable heirloom,” the nation’s financial capital and second-largest city is “the visionary, open-minded experiment, “a place that looks always to the future and defies every threat of a rocket attack with a live-for-the-moment attitude that’s almost a communal creed.”

“… My wake-up was a bartender in a lively restaurant who passed around shots of bourbon and lit a sage sprig on fire in front of us. “L’chaim!” we all shouted. To life—while we’ve got it.” this part of the article managed to grasp my attention in wondering what it would be like to live in a city that could, at any moment, be destroyed in whole or in part by an enemy’s missile. It almost seemed to me that the inhabitants of Tel Aviv mock the danger. Not that they are unaware of the possibility that they may be annihilated but that living life was more important than the risk of death. Certainly the message does not bode well for the faint of heart. What is it, then, that motivates its citizens to celebrate in the face of impending doom?

The concept of death is interpreted very differently by people. Some, who are in excruciating pain pray to die and would welcome the relief from their bodily trappings. Others, particularly those whose lives are lived by trying to control most everything, are very fearful of death, mainly because of the unknown factor associated with it, Still others who are not afraid to take reasonable risks look upon the grim reaper’s coming into their lives as an exciting adventure which they neither wish for nor are fearful of but something that will provide them with the last piece of their life’s puzzle which will complete the cycle of life.

Many refuse to think about death … their own demise. They prefer to put it in the backs of their minds doing everything they can to prevent it from coming to the forefront including their attempts at appearing “forever young” by getting facelifts and liposuctions to maintain their youthful look. Putting off the inevitable, though, doesn’t prevent it from occurring as they might go out kicking and screaming. Another aspect is the effect that the death of a loved one has on some people. Beyond the natural state of mourning, they continue to live their lives in that very state for the rest of their lives without the realization that their time will eventually come but that life is to be lived, not mourned. They might become reclusive and refuse to take part in family affairs because of their perspective of the dire effect of having lost their lost loved one.

The mystery that surrounds death is much like believing in something or someone you cannot see or hear. It could be a god, or believing that a potential tragedy will not occur, or hoping against hope that someone who is dying will somehow magically recover. But very few of us have been taught to believe in death as being a “good thing.” Some religions believe that although the body may die, there is a mystical part of the human being that will go on living. Some call that a soul, others that death translates into being able experience nirvana. Whatever the belief, the fact remains that no one has experienced death and come back to explain its components. Yes, there are some who’ve indicated that they were at death’s door but were able to be revived but science has placed the veracity of such claims into a skeptical mode.

If only the fear or denial that death is a negative could be replaced by emphasizing the need to live life to its fullest measure. If those who dread the subject could understand how important living life really is to the human spirit, perhaps many of their fears might be quelled. It is interesting to me that those who reside in Tel Aviv and who live each day so that it might be their last, seem to enjoy life more than those of us who’ve never faced their dilemma. Perhaps, after reading this article, you will be able to raise a glass and repeat those very words that help them to psychologically sustain themselves … L’chaim! … and mean it, that would be quite a turnaround, wouldn’t it?

(18 June 2014)

Both as a consultant and author, Charles Bonasera’s story-telling have motivated people to change patterns and resolve problems in their lives. All of his books contain valuable, practical lessons that people can easily apply to bettering and managing their lifestyles. He has also written a myriad of articles which can be found on his website at www.charlesmbonasera.com.

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