Now, don’t think I’m being morbid, but death is one of the three definite happenings in life (after birth and incurring tax). One day it’s going to happen, perhaps tomorrow, perhaps next week, perhaps next year, but it’s coming. What’s important is how you live your life until that point, and how people remember you. The recent passing of Nelson Mandela is a prime example. Here was a man who worked tirelessly for peace and reconciliation, and his name has forever been etched into the annuls of history.
Since the dawn of time, man has been fascinated with death. Whether it’s through elaborate funeral rites, thoughts of rebirth or reincarnation, or the creation of cult status, we have built monuments, statutes and mausoleums galore across the world in people’s memory. Whether the afterlife exists or not, there were some people who were determined not to be forgotten.
It’s a sad fact that for many, death has been the best career move they ever made. This appalling reality is applicable to scores of artists, singers, writers and the like. Once they cannot create anything further, their previous work can rocket in value. I always find it sad that your finest work can sometimes only be truly appreciated once you’re gone. Prime examples include Vincent van Gogh, Edgar Allen Poe and Galileo.
But enough about death. The entire reason I’m writing this piece is to celebrate life..! There are enough clichés about life not being a rehearsal etc, but I wonder how many people actually do something about it and celebrate living..? I hear of people writing down 100 things to do before I die, but do they ever do anything about it..? Lists are fine, provided you take action. Personally I abhor ‘Bucket Lists’. What you should do is make a list of things to do while you live..! Even Dracula once said “Take me away from all this death…”
The snows of winter are steadily covering the northern mountains of the British Isles, and I can already imagine Dorothy Grace Elder sharpening her ‘Dignitas for the young’ knives. I fear the first mountaineering incident of the coming season will spring certain press and commentators into overreaction and comment on death. As I’ve mentioned before, it’s going to happen, and rarely do you have any say about when, so enjoy the your life and the hills every day you can. The awful accident involving Michael Schumacher has filled the press recently. A man who certainly understands speed, and wears the correct safety equipment has suffered awful injuries on the ski slopes. I’m sure we all hope and pray that he enjoys a full recovery…
We’re all living longer and it seems many people are possessed with looking younger. Make up is an ancient art, but surgery for looks sake is a newer phenomenon. Now I’ve had reconstructive surgery, but that was due to my frostbite injuries. What I can’t understand is the fashion for altering your looks and the huge industry that has appeared around it. Death is still going to get you, so whatever happened to ‘growing old gracefully..?’ My hair is grey, and grey it shall stay. If it falls out, then it falls out. You can’t halt time and anyway, who would want to live forever..? I mean, where would it ever end..? I always think that if I die tomorrow, I’ve had a hell of a good time…
As a child, I used to sit with my grandfather and hear his stories about life. He had worked down the pit, fought in Burma and been the father of four children. He had a simple life and I remember him loving a good game of dominos, a pint or two of mild and a packet of woodbines. I wrote about his life in a previous blog, but I’m bringing him in here as a celebration of life. He is dead, and that I cannot change, but he grew old gracefully and with dignity. I miss him terribly, but I celebrate his life with every memory that fills my mind. Make sure you are remembered for something positive that changed people’s lives.
So for 2014, stop making lists, get off your backsides, do something and love life..! Don’t worry about making mistakes, just get out there. As Anais Nis once said – “I postpone death by living, by failing, by suffering, by forgiving…”