Could dying really be as easy as it looks? It seems as though any fool can pull it off with great aplomb. I myself, quite innocent of success in any area of life, expect to make a great success of dying, and an even greater success of actually being dead. That I expect to do as well as any human being in history.
I am referring to natural death, but suicide is also worth considering. Suicide complicates matters by adding the human element. As is always the case, thinking too much can be an impediment to success at suicide. The record is littered with reports of attempted suicides. In many cases, “attempted” suicide was the actual goal, so the failure to die in those instances would really be a success. Many times, though, sincere attempts at suicide run afoul of overly elaborate plans. Someone may throw themselves off of a high spot only to encounter a well placed tree; someone taking an overdose of pills may vomit, lose consciousness, and be discovered and saved; it’s amazing how many people shoot themselves in the head only to discover nothing important.
Elaborate plans are usually the result of a fear that the dying may hurt. This concern for comfort betrays a lack of desire on the part of the applicant. Sincere applicants simply adopt an aspect of repose and fasten a Hefty bag around their heads. It’s fast, cheap, and effective. Sincere suicides are not concerned with any pain and suffering beyond that associated with remaining alive.
But death, as an inescapable component of life, seems to be one of life’s easiest endeavors. Whether it is accomplished with great wailing and gnashing of teeth, or faced with a dignified and steely resolve, death comes over us in effortless fashion, we surrender to it much more readily, for instance, than Winter surrenders to Springtime.
You may say, well, I know a man with cancer who has struggled for many years and is giving death quite a fight! This is merely an aberration of chronology. At the hour of his death, he will be taken as easily as a dandelion may be taken from a field, and with the certainly of mathematics. In all of the countries of the world, everyday, 2+2=4.
Whatever, death is out there and when the time comes we are toast. We will be worse than toast. Toast is physical matter which will only trasmutate; we are more than the sum of our molecules, we are a profound accident of electrochemography, a wavelength on some cosmic radio that is uniquely us. When we die, that wavelength goes off the air. It’s over, Johnny! Elvis has left the building! It can be disconcerting.
One technique that I have found useful in dealing with this phenomenon is suicidal ideation. I’m not really considering killing myself, I certainly have no immediate plans to do so, but I just roll the whole concept over in my mind. What circumstances would warrant it? What methodology? Note v. no note? Does pre-planning have any merit? Or does it only render the exercise pathetic? Or more pathetic? Or merely poignant?
I’m sure that most mental health professionals would find this kind of thinking unhealthy, perhaps even pathological. But in my case, it’s just a control thing. What could be more out of our control than the inevitability of our deaths? Much more certain than taxes, I’m sure that you’ll agree. If I fight that loss of control with a little harmless consideration of the unthinkable, what’s the harm?