Thursday, 22 March 2012

The Dichotomy of Death

There is something incredibly numbing about death. Before the tears, before the grief there is a draining, as if someone pulled a huge plug from the bottom of your emotional sea and everything you were feeling just flooded away before your eyes. The world goes gray and meaningless; it has lost one thing and so, for a time at least, it seems to have lost everything.

Perhaps it is the uniqueness of every human soul that makes each one seem so vital to the continuation of our own personal existences, each one so irreplaceable, each one such a magnificent loss. Empathy allows us to realise that, just as we are centre to our own existence, so each person is the centre of their own, and once that person has gone then an entire universe of thought and feeling has come to end. Through empathy, whenever anyone we are close to dies, we all feel the end of a unique and beautiful world.

And yet, if death is something so numbing, so soul destroying in reality, why is it we seek it out with such morbid fervour in fiction, or even in true life stories with the vicarious safety of personal distance? We cry at films, books, and we despair at 'real life tragedies' (personally, I despair that such a section even exists in a bookstore). The emotion is there, but the calm before that tumultuous storm of woe, the draining, is not and as such, when those emotions do hit us, they are weakened and clearly unreal.

Perhaps it is this we strive for. Perhaps we seek to experience the negative in controlled quantities to prepare ourselves for the inevitable day when we must face the worst for real, an immunisation of the soul, if you will. But this is hopeless, as anyone who has suffered real loss will tell you. That immense draining that comes first, that sudden reset of everything you feel and think and believe, immediately undoes any preparation you might have thought you’d had. It takes away all perspective, it denies all comparison, it levels everything to a single and terrible state.

And I am glad. For without that levelling, without that reworking of ourselves, without having the empathy to understand that a universe full of thoughts, full of experiences, full of real people living real lives within the framework of a single mind, without that we would not be able to realise the wondrous nature of our friends, lovers and families, of those individuals that define our individuality. Without comprehending that loss, the loss of a very real part of ourselves through the loss of our companions, we could never realise that those parts of ourselves even existed in the first place. We would never realise the beauty and the splendour of the life we were so privileged to be a part of. Without loss, real loss, we could never really love.

And we all have loved, and we all have lost one of the most beautiful, the most unique universes that I have ever had the privilege to exist within and to have as a part of my own.

Rest in peace, James 'Jamibu' Bullock.

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