A couple of hours ago, I had a very heated argument with someone, who is closest to me in terms of understanding me the way I am, about the idea of being alive and having independence to choose one’s death as well. The subject can be argued both emotionally and logically. If we can faithfully ponder over these four questions we can solve all the confusion which is created by the idea of dying, or to be put more precisely, the idea of choosing to die. What it means to live? What it means to die? What it means to die while we are still alive? What it means to live even after our death?
1. What it means to live?
In terms of biology, an organism is alive as long as it is able to perform the complex reactions that take place inside its body. Be it a single cell organism, a virus, a plant, an animal or the social animal i.e., US. The moment we wake up in the morning, the body starts following its routine, physically as well as mentally. The day’s schedules, preparation of a presentation, rereading the sales pitch, preparing the breakfast and so on. As soon as we step out from the comfort of our homes, we see our surroundings brimming with life everywhere. Billions of people around the globe with billions of schedules leave their home daily. They feel alive. The deadlines are to be met, the promises are to be kept, the project is to be finished, the journey is to be made. Everything is happening on schedule, as it was planned. A slight change in schedule can disrupt the entire day’s routine. A slight change like calling up a friend to know his well being can possibly drag the conversation longer than planned and put other deadlines at risk of failure. A slight change like taking a walk back home rather than choosing the public transport can delay the exercise schedule which can further result in laziness. A slight change like singing a song while working in office can disturb people around us.
I wonder what if nature had not changed things slightly. What would have become of the world, the universe as a whole if there was no change in the schedule. If rains were to go on forever or the Ice Age was to stay forever, would the evolution be possible? Would it be possible for humans to exist and master nature if there were no slight changes? The slightest of changes in the process of evolution occurred when a single cell organism did not divide itself to create two organisms but it divided itself to form a multi-celled organism and hence the complex life form started on Earth. Out of the zillions of single celled organisms, just one cell decided to change and it changed the fate of entire planet, complex life forms like bacteria, amoeba, fungi, fishes, sea plants came into existence. These species lived, prospered and filled the waters of earth with all the wonderful colors of life. One slight change.
Change is the only constant. Change is what we go through everyday, inside and outside. To live is to change, to adapt and to decide accordingly. To live is to act, to stay active, to perform action. To live is to inspire others to live and live well. To live is to be healthy, be positive, be aggressive, to have an ambition, to set an example of how to live. To live is to have freedom to live in whatever way we desire. To live is to find out our destinies and fulfilling them. To live is to do the extra ordinary. Of all the other things, to live is to have courage to follow our hearts.
2. What it means to die?
Everyone is scared of death. The priests who talk about the afterlife and the judgment day are scared of it. The doctors who treat patients with life threatening diseases are scared of it. The soldiers fighting for their countries are scared of it. Men and women working eight hours a day to secure their future and old age are scared of it. But, there is someone who is not scared of death. It is a child. No child is scared of death. A child is ready to do anything, is ready to take any risk without even thinking that it is a risk. A child is a wonderful answer to the question I posed previously ‘What it means to live?’ A child is alive every second. A child is aware of what is happening around him. A child looks around, learns things, wants to try all of them, wants to jump from the balcony for the thrill of it, wants to dive in a swimming pool to feel the water on his skin, wants to shout as loud as it can to catch the excitement of it. The child which is alive is fed up with the doses of right and wrong, ethical and non-ethical, good and bad, and during the time a child learns to notice the difference about the societal aspects of life, he fails to notice that he has grown up into a man and that child does not exist anymore. The child is dead.
It does not requires a person to stop functioning biologically in order to die. I see dead people everyday. I talk to them and I know they are not alive. There is no spark in them to learn anything new, to try to do something extra ordinary, to stand out, to be different. They don’t want to unstable the balance of things. They think their future depends on their present and while working hard for their future, they fail to enjoy the present. Living dead. Everywhere.
3. What it means to die while living?
Not everyone is failing to enjoy the present. Many people are living life on their own terms. They won’t listen to any outsider to tell them how to live their life. They make their rules, they live by it and they are ready to suffer the consequences which might arise from their decisions. They love troubles. They love dreams. They love to explore the unknown territories. They love to step into a random house on a sunny summer day and being chased down by the home owner. They booze, they scream, they shout, they love everything they do. They are scared too but they know how to be strong, be focused and not let anything hamper their free bird lifestyle.
These kind of people can change categories anytime and often find themselves standing with the ‘living dead’. The reason is ‘doubt’. They began to doubt on their decisions. Doubt works like a termite, it eats up the confidence of an individual. Once the confidence disappears, the dreams begin to crumble. One by one, every dream seems impossible to achieve. They are left with no choice to follow the routine of the world and hope that somehow, they will be safe under the imaginary blanket of secure jobs, nice family and knowledgeable friend circle. The dreamer gives way to a dead soul which lives inside a biologically active body.
4. What it means to live even after our death?
Expressions and impressions. Expressions of self. Impressions on others.
Those who die, live in memories. The memories of how they expressed themselves. Not everyone out there is expressive. A majority of people are oppressive, they never express their true feelings to anyone ever. They are more concerned about the reactions they will have to face rather than expressing their true self to the world. The world has always remembered people who have expressed. Be it the scientists, the philosophers, the travelers, the warriors, the kings, the sportspersons, the singers or the writers. Anyone who has expressed, has been noticed. Those who never expressed, well, nobody knows them and no one ever will. Expression is a must to survive even after death. I am reminded of the famous painter Vincent Van Gogh whose work was noticed after his death and who is regarded as one the most influential painters of his time. He expressed in isolation. He painted because he loved to paint and he stayed true to himself. He did what he loved and it was noticed. No surprises if I remember him now as an influential painter, he lives in me and he must be feeling satisfied about what he achieved eventually.
Whatever we do, leaves an impression on people who are in touch with us. Sometimes they draw positive inspiration from our actions, sometimes they feel we are being negative in our approach towards life or ourselves and sometimes they just let us be in our own skin. But, an impression is always created on the other person due to our actions and it determines how we will live in his memories. We might live as a bad man in some memories, a good man in others, but the important thing, which is not to be missed here, is that our impressions on others are the results of our expressions of self. To express is to live, even after our death.