Big news, I got married! My wife and I went to a beautiful garden in Overland Park with just 3 family members and a judge, and now we’re hitched. Technically we are waiting to celebrate in whole until September, which we will do another ceremony for family and close friends. Either way, something excited and happy happened during this Covid-19 era.
It’s a strange thing to plan for with this pandemic going on. We’ve tried to look at our options for rescheduling, but our venue will not allow us to do so without charging us a pretty penny that we just do not have. The only way our date can be rescheduled is if Iowa starts limiting groups of people again. So, now we wait to see who all feels comfortable with attending. My grandparents don’t feel safe with attending, I don’t blame them either. Undoubtedly, I would not be able to handle the fact that anyone got sick from my wedding. Part of me is really hoping Iowa gets it together and limits gatherings, that way we can reschedule. The other part of me doesn’t want to wait, but that is more of an emotional side of me rather than rational.
Nevertheless, here I am, sitting in the same spot, essentially doing the same things since the Coronavirus reached the United States in worrying numbers. Admittedly, I have left the house a bit more, but I have been wearing a mask and trying to keep my distance from others. However the majority of the times I have left the apartment was to gather things for the upcoming wedding celebration. It’s such a surreal time, so many people seem to be against mandates ordering people to wear a mask. Arguments against it are mostly that it is an impingement on personal liberties. Other arguments don’t have as much validity, such as, “it’s uncomfortable” or “it’s a conspiracy”. To be frank, I don’t understand what the big deal is. If you wear a mask and it helps contain the virus, then why not? If you wear a mask and it doesn’t help, you just spent a little bit of time uncomfortable while erring on the side of caution.
People are very emotional during this time. Communicating on the internet has its benefits, but it has significant drawbacks as well. People are quick to spew hatred for those who hold different views and beliefs. Perhaps we should make phones and computers look like people, maybe then communications would be more respectful, albeit kind of creepy. I haven’t seen any crazy arguments in public, nor have I seen any massive protests. This might have more to do with the fact that I spend most of the day plopped on the couch entangled with a stream of media and electronics. All I can say for certain, people will argue about anything, but when shit hits the fan and they are faced with the realization of their own or a loved one’s mortality, many things no longer seems as important.
This leads me to think about how I fell into Buddhism. One of the most beneficial insights I have gained through my life revolves around the contemplation of death. Inherently, we as animals have a strong will to live. Even people who attempt suicide often admit that almost immediately after they made an attempt, they regret it and reach out for help. Unfortunately this does not always happen, some people will attempt again and again, some may regret it but it’s too late to get help. However, I believe that this says something about our will to live. We have very strong emotions to keep us going, it’s not until you can disconnect yourself from those emotions temporarily that you can see what this clinging to life looks like. The results from seeing this vary from person to person, some wish to look away, some may turn to suicide if they are depressed, some simply just note it as human nature. One thing is for certain, the vast majority of us do not wish to die, and we do not wish to see others die.
It feels like a physical pain inside of us when we are indirectly affected by death. None of us can truly say what it is like to die. Some of us have near death experiences, some in which case shock ourselves to our very core and change the way we live. But to have truly died, in my own definition, means you do not come back (at least not in the same form, but that’s another thing). So in my mind, no one can explain wholeheartedly what happens after death. We certainly have guesses, and theories. Many of us turn to faith or religion to help cope with the fear of the unknown. But when someone we know dies, the pain that they are never going to be with us in this world again feels devastating. Death is so powerful that we feel strong emotions when we see others die, even when we do not know them personally.
I believe that we want people to die on our own terms. It is almost a type of greed, but with a much more compassionate intent. Typically, humans don’t want others to die. There must be the fear of the unknown that motivates this wish. Perhaps it reminds ourselves of all the things we want to accomplish before we die. Or maybe it proves to us that we may not die safely and calmly in bed at an old age. All I know is that when someone dies the socially respectful things to do is to feel remorse, celebrate that person’s life, or express condolences to those more affected by the death. In many cultures, death is considered a loss. In these cultures, the emotions are too strong to see it as a gift that the person was alive at all to begin with.
It’s a very powerful constant in life. Without death, there cannot be a life, without life there cannot be death. We cannot run from our fate, although we wish to prolong the inevitable. As I have aged, death still saddens me, perhaps not as much as it used to, but now I find myself feeling something different. It is a hope that whomever died did not suffer while they passed. I do not wish for those whose time has come to further suffer so I may cling to their presence. Yet this clinging still pervades throughout me. This clinging is a strong emotion, one that is not easily transcended past. For those who do not reach old age, death is considered premature. If it were possible, I would choose that premature death would never occur. But it appears premature death is intertwined within our world. Life would be very different today if premature death never existed. How would social movements led by martyrs be viewed if there was no martyr? How would mental health and trauma be changed without premature death? It almost gives me some reassurance that these people who died prematurely changed the world.
A bit of a grim topic. I guess this virus has made me think about this more lately. May everyone be safe and live joyfully in their lives.
-Thoughts of a Writing Freak