There are a vast number of people who are only content with the most in life: more money, more fame, more power, more recognition, more relationships, more material possessions. There are few and far between individuals who are content with the opposite in life: the bare minimum. I, not to say I always have, fit into the latter criteria. I am content with very little and desire nothing more than I need: food, water, shelter, community. If I am handed a new book to read from time to time, a pencil to write with and a sheet of paper to write on, I am content beyond the highest degree.
Some may label me as a stoic in today's world. Some may prefer to label me as something different: a minimalist, a simpleton, a recluse. But I am not a label, therefore, I cannot be labelled. I am an individual. I am me. The same goes for you.
This way of living has helped me to overcome many fears. One fear in particular that no longer frightens me is the fear of my own death - and the death of others around me. It wasn't always like this, and it has taken a lot of time and practice in order to reach this state of non-fear towards death, but now I understand the importance of death's purpose in life: we need death in order to appreciate life. Without death, life would remain shapeless and scant of hope. Those who choose to play ignorant to their own and their loved one's inevitable mortality will struggle to live a worthwhile life - a life that is devoid of meaning, faith, and compassion.
The death of another: a friend, a family member, a lover, a guardian or distant relation is not to be grieved over - it should be celebrated. Your mother dies and you say, 'I am upset that she is gone.' Naturally, as you would be - for your mother has been with you since the beginning of your life. She carried you in her womb, gave birth to you, nurtured you, has been a mother to you - your mother provided you with the gift of life. For the child that has loved their mother unconditionally while she was alive, whilst upset is a natural emotion to feel, to be distraught over her death is a sin. If, following your mother's passing, you weep uncontrollably, you are saying without saying, 'I wish I had loved my mother more and spent more time with her whilst she was alive.' Now, a stream of guilt is flowing through you. You have missed the chance to love when love was possible, and now you cannot love as the opportunity to love has been and gone. Death of a loved one is a beautiful thing for those who showed them much love when they were alive.
It is important for us to own an equal amount of comfort in knowing our death is soon to be upon us the same as we would take comfort in making love to our partner, soaking in a warm bath, walking in the countryside or looking into a child’s eyes. Until you have accepted that death will not rest until you are firmly within its vices, your life will be an ongoing struggle for accomplishing anything worthy.
Epictetus once wrote:
“Men are disturbed not by things, but by the opinions about the things. Thus death is nothing terrible, for if it were, it would have seemed so to Socrates; for the opinion about death, that is terrible, is the terrible thing."
Whether or not you are to meet death due to a fall from a great height, drowning in the ocean, eaten by wild animals, a cruel disease or through old age or another natural cause, it is all the same. You may live next to a beach, up in the mountains, in the city, but wherever you reside, death will find you. Death arrives unswerving: it never takes anybody without surprise, and it never fails to fulfil its single duty as one of the most important parts of life: by putting the old to sleep and providing life to the new.
Thanks for reading.