“Nothing is certain but death…” Benjamen Franklin 1789 in a letter to Jean Baptiste Leroy
i think this phrase is a crystallization of our society’s fear towards death, especially the modern one, where the story of the deceased is blasted and cycled on twenty four hours news and the internet. the advent of life saving medicine has slowly alienated death from our day to day life, which in effect has enhanced the shock and emotional response to death.
the statement is true. every existing thing only sees the end in sight. up until i was more experienced with death, it was my nightime fantasies, my childhood nightmare of my parents dying inside a pyramid (lol) made me cry in bed. with God’s blessing, family life has been quite positive in the past few years. we’ve only had births but no deaths. The hustle of life and other mental occupations of the teenage mind has slowly isolated this fear from my head. but as i am at this milestone in my life and my departure from my known world is imminent, i do think spending some time on this topic is worthwhile.
nothing is certain but death, but the certainty of death is coupled with another consistent truth – creation. Death cannot be attained unless the thing is living. and like many other things in life, these two come in pairs, like light and dark, like hot and cold. we can only recognize the other if we chose to recognize its opposite. suddenly, the advent of death does not become so scary because it becomes a consistency in our universe. it is not an impending doom but a merely feature of the universe we live in. they say death is bloody and horrid so is the birth of a child. we fear death because the consequences of death are unknown, because we don’t know when it will happen or where it brings us. if we can choose our own deaths, would it make death less scary? the other requires a bit of religious faith. if you believe death brings
you somewhere good, it makes death less horrifying. why fear something that is so fickle and unpredictable? creation and death is a feature of this universe. our only reasonable
course of action is to accept this and take advantage of our existence and live until that moment arrives.
perhaps my grandma or my parents or people close to me will die, perhaps even when i’m not next to them. but we were given creation. why worry about something that is certain when there is so much that is uncertain about how our lives can be lived. i think it is best summarized by this Hindu scripture
For certain is death for the born
And certain is birth for the dead;
Therefore over the inevitable
Thou shouldst not grieve.
Bhagavad Gita, Chapter 2
(250 BC – 250 AD)
(Franklin’s original quote continued with “…and taxes.” Not relevant and too comical for this serious piece)