“Why worry about what can kill you tomorrow when so many things can kill you tonight?” 

 

(title is a remembered quote from the movie, “Lord of War”)

[thoughts from  ~burning woman~  ]

I’m sure that title and quote is also a paraphrase of something else I’ve read somewhere in my travels.  It is a line however that I have often thought about.  What does that mean to me?  Does it mean, in the hedonistic sense, “Eat, drink and be merry for tomorrow we die!”?  Throw caution to the wind, live for the moment, and the Devil take the hindmost?

While I completely disagree with the common politically correct phrase, “we’re all in this together” (which is obvious bullshit in spades when you think about it seriously for a second) there is definitely one thing we all have in common: death.  Whatever we do to avoid it, and believe me that the amount of money people spend to try to avoid it is beyond staggering (well, OK, I don’t know how much, I just know it’s a whole lot more than “that”) we simply can’t.  Death is our constant companion through life.  We’re born to die, with a little lunch break in-between we call life. (We don’t get paid for that either, the opposite actually.)

I’m not trying to cheer you up, but I’m not trying to depress you either as both would defeat my purpose.  I haven’t (yet) said anything you don’t already know so if this feels uncomfortable, think of it as a reality check.

Why do we worry?  Why so many stressed to the max and depressed?  What happened to the pursuit of happiness, the verve, the “joie de vivre”?  What is this terrible darkness that is descending upon the planet which seems to increase every time some major man-made event is propagandized?  Why can’t we be infected by a beneficial virus for a change? Why can’t we have at least one major truly joyful man-made event of gargantuan proportions to celebrate ourselves within?  Since we can’t outgrow the need for leaders, why can’t we have smart ones? Why must everything of major import be sad, dreadful, horrible, hopeless, destructive, death-dealing, polluting and/or costly with no end in sight when we are sick and tired of hearing about it or experiencing it? Why must what we hope for be forever out of reach, more likely to recede from our grasp than approach it?  Why does the carrot always turn into a stick?

I think it all goes back to death.  Consciously we may choose to ignore the monster and try to live relatively normal, happy lives among those we love or the society we fit in, but subconsciously “it” is always there, just like *Joe Black, not always recognized for what it is but suspected, distrusted and feared; the entity with its own agenda over which no one has any control.  Death, the great equalizer it’s been called.  Well, I don’t know: I see a lot of death, I don’t see much equality arising from its presence, quite the contrary.  Death is like that bouncing ball that after it’s set a bouncing, every time it’s touched it bounces even more wildly and unpredictably.

In a moment of wild ecstasy I suppose, John Donne wrote “death thou shalt die.”  Literally or figuratively?  It really doesn’t matter “how” it matters more “when.”  Until now man has been the slave of death and the certainty of having to face that executioner has caused man to behave in quite irrational and contradictory ways.  For the average Earthian, the way to avoid death is to be the first to deal death to some whose existence is perceived as a threat.  This knee-jerk reaction is called survival of the fittest but is better defined as war, man’s most precious invention; the one he spends the most resources upon by far; his joy, his baby, his heritage, his great love.  Makes me want to write an ode to war, or a love poem:

O dear war,
How I missed thee in the dark days of peace!
How I praise thee now that thee art returned
To fill the aching void in my human heart,
To stop the aimless wander of my soul!

O dear war
Promise me from thine bloody throne
Thou shalt abandon me never again!
I could no longer bear the emptiness
Caused by your troubling absence!”

Well it’s a start.  Dark humour, but how far from the truth of the matter?  We kill remorselessly in vain attempts to save our own life, a life that was forfeit from the moment it was conceived.

OK, so I’m not looking for rationality among the species, I know such a thing is anathema to man’s thinking.  I’m just wondering if there is a cure to worry.  Let’s spread the reasoning net.  All animal life dies, sooner than later.  Do animals worry about dying?  I don’t think they do, although many animals experience powerful emotions when one of them dies, some more than others.  They know about death; about the end of the body, but they don’t seem to be worried about their own coming death.  It’s only when the predator appears that they resort to their fight or flight mode.  If they get sick they do not linger.  Either they heal themselves or give themselves over to death with hardly a struggle.

For whatever reason, Earth people approach the matter of death much differently than animals.  Animals don’t form armies to attack and decimate their enemies.  They may be territorial for naturally mandated purposes but they don’t try to expand their “empires” outside limits set by the Alpha male of the tribe or queen of the hive.  Those outside the limits are safe from attack and free of harassment.  Animals kill to survive, not to enhance their own personal power or “wealth” as the expense of others.  {Oh please God, make me into an animal this minute!  Amen!}  Animals gracefully surrender their bodies to the earth and shortly no evidence remains of their passage.

It is foolish to worry, even more so to allow oneself to get depressed.  Depression isn’t a disease, it’s the dirty diaper of the spoiled and entitled modern bratty Earthian who wants more than it’s willing to earn for itself; who is not willing to share.  Depression comes from a “I want it, and I want it now” civilization whose technology provided a lot of stupid, unnecessary polluting toys and continues to promise more toys while the natural resources that fueled that technology are wasted by misuse and war or vanishing from the planet in waves of entropic energy like climate change.  Depression from not getting what one feels entitled to leads to worry about more serious things, like losing one’s home or having no money to buy basic necessities such as food or losing one’s children through violence… Ah yes, the list of things that cause worry grows long.

I choose to live by my first quote.  I don’t worry about what could kill me tomorrow.  I think about the things lurking in the night of my mind, the things tonight, that can kill me.  I think about the dangers of reverting back to being a common Earthian; of waking up tomorrow morning worrying about food, clothing, shelter, money, sex, what’s been stolen in the night, etc.  I think about spiritual regression and mental devaluation from nightly visitations of “demons” from the darkness of the capitalist, consumerist Matrix.  I think of the horror of discovering I’m no longer immune to the foibles of man but rather fully back in establishment clutches.  I think about what it would be like to lose my sense of self empowerment, of knowing what I am; of losing sight of my purpose… in the night.  And I shudder.  That would be worse than any conceivable depression.

Ah, but I’m a witch!  I have spells to protect myself from demons who would steal my self-made personhood:  “I think my own thoughts, therefore I am my own person.” And spells also to protect me from well-meaning people who would destroy the essential me with their verbal weapons of fear-based mass distraction.  My simple response to all of it is “I choose me.”  Then I remember that death approached at through self-determination has become my greatest gift, my doorway out of a dying place to another I know of and look forward to – no: not heaven!

When does death die?  It dies when transcended every waking and awakened moment.

PS: this isn’t in response to the current Covid 19 pandemic. I wrote these thoughts some years ago but they do fit the moment.

*Joe Black: reference is to the movie, “Meet Joe Black” with Brad Pitt as Death.

 

 

 

 

16 thoughts on ““Why worry about what can kill you tomorrow when so many things can kill you tonight?” 

  1. sherazade

    Scusami se mi fermo alla incipit. Mi sono imposta uno Stop al “virus e dintorni”.

    Mi richiamo alla tua seconda citazione:

    “Del doman non v’è certezza”
    è un verso della Canzona di Bacco, composta da Lorenzo de’ Medici, il Magnifico, in occasione del carnevale. Si tratta di un “trionfo” ossia una composizione scritta per essere cantata da un corteo di maschere.
    La canzone è una esaltazione del tema pagano del “carpe diem“, concetto fondante della filosofia epicurea: “cogli l’attimo”, cioè goditi la vita attimo per attimo senza pensare a ciò che succederà dopo….
    Concetto sul quale non sono molto d accordo.

    Abbi cura ST!

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    1. Sha'Tara Post author

      Partial translation: “I refer to your second quote: “There is no certainty of tomorrow”
      it is a verse of the Canzona di Bacco, composed by Lorenzo de ‘Medici, the Magnificent, on the occasion of the carnival. It is a “triumph” or a composition written to be sung by a procession of masks. The song is an exaltation of the pagan theme of the “carpe diem”, the founding concept of the Epicurean philosophy: “seize the moment”, that is, enjoy life moment by moment without thinking about what will happen next …
      Concept on which I do not agree very much.

      Translation problems again, Shera. I used my essay to turn the meaning of the concept on its head! Difficult to explain in a comment but I’ll say this: the society we live in is mostly lived in hedonism and that is the main failure of modern society. But that is another topic. In this one I was explaining the difference between “worry” and serious thought. Worrying about the future is no better than raw hedonism – it accomplishes nothing. One should “settle” one’s future both mentally and spiritually then set to work focusing on the present moment. Like you say so many times, dedicating one’s life to helping others. Those who worry about their future rob themselves of the joy of sacrificial giving. [Now lets see what the translator does with that!]
      Ho usato il mio saggio per capovolgere il significato del concetto! Difficile da spiegare in un commento, ma dirò questo: la società in cui viviamo è per lo più vissuta in edonismo e questo è il principale fallimento della società moderna. Ma questo è un altro argomento. In questo stavo spiegando la differenza tra “preoccupazione” e pensiero serio. Preoccuparsi per il futuro non è meglio dell’edonismo crudo – non realizza nulla. Si dovrebbe “sistemare” il proprio futuro sia mentalmente che spiritualmente, quindi mettersi al lavoro concentrandosi sul momento presente. Come dici tante volte, dedicando la propria vita ad aiutare gli altri. Coloro che si preoccupano del loro futuro si privano della gioia del dono sacrificale.

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      1. sherazade

        cara shatara Non volevo sminuire il tuo articolo ma semplicemente dire che la mia testa è molto piena di pensieri e la mia anima pesante Dunque per un po’ desidero non aggiungere altro penso.

        dear Sha ‘Tara I did not want to diminish your article but simply to say that my head is very full of thoughts and my soul heavy So for a while I want to say or read nothing more …or comment,
        Ciao

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  2. Hyperion

    I came to know death as my one true friend. Death will never abandon you or mistreat you. Death will meet your every expectation. When you no longer fear death, you find you no longer fear life and then no matter the toil or trouble, you are secure in yourself. When death is ready, he or she comes for you and at your moment of struggle, lifts you away from it all. Life would never do that for anyone. Gods will abandon you, friends and lovers change their mind about you, and when life abandons you, death will still be your closest companion. So, live and know death comes when you earn it and are worthy of it, which is usually when you least expect it. Ahh, and one could never accuse death of fascism, racism, capitalism, despotism or any ism of any kind. If ever their were a kind and benevolent god that never abandoned his people, it would be death. Celebrate its arrival and in the mean time live free of fear.

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    1. Sha'Tara Post author

      Yes. I believe it’s a left-over from our survival instinct. If nothing else, our religions, however bad they have turned out, tried to teach us how to overcome it. I learned it from doing a “life trade” for another person condemned to death in which I would have been the one executed. That’s one way. Hype learned it in other ways. Mostly though it comes down to rational thought: if I’m going to have to walk this road regardless, I’d better make sure I have the right shoes on. Then go for the walk, never looking back. It’s the fear, and that’s what is driving this world into madness.

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  3. Sha'Tara Post author

    Obviously you’ve been there too. So well said. If enough people understood that, this civilization would not be in the mess it’s in at the moment. While writing about death I was also thinking of how many times “nature” or is it the planet, has warned us to be more careful of our ways for we were pridefully marching ourselves into a corner from which there would be no escape. I was thinking about this current pandemic and how grossly misunderstood the process is – understandably because to pay intelligent attention to the message runs counter to Earthian hubris: no one is going to tell us how to run our system, right? But if “we” succeed in cutting this virus at the knees, it will withdraw, mutate and return with a totally out-of-control vengeance upon some equally unsuspecting future generation: children?Grand children? Great grand children? Regardless, our current hubris and cowardliness is condemning some future generation(s) to a massive, horrible die-back. But even those who castigate my words when I say, get back to work, don’t have any working alternative. They think they can ride along, maybe in a reduced inertia economy, unable to reason that no such thing is possible under consumer-driven predatory capitalism. The time to take action is now and that means millions MUST die (die-back) to clear the dead wood from the forest to prevent a global wild fire in a foreseeable future. We should be welcoming this virus, let it run its natural course and heave a sigh of relief that “SOMETHING” was sent to us in an attempt to salvage our civilization. We will NOT pay it any heed. We will do all in our power to stop this force, as we are so used to forcing our will upon nature. Therefore we will have to face death, not as a welcome friend but as another greatly feared enemy. Thanks again for your comment, Daniel.

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  4. rawgod

    Life and death are but a microsend apart. But what really happens in death: The ego ceases to exist. Not in a Buddhist way, but in a life way, overcome your ego. You were not born with an ego, but the way you were brought up taught you that you are your ego. No. The ego wants, desires, and is afraid to die. You are that which is inside you, that touch of life that gives you the strength to carry on. Many people have many different names for it. I call it the spirit (not the soul!) for lack of a better word. Spirit is a good thing. Cherish it, not your ego.

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  5. usfman

    There does lie a spiritual rot in this country in my opinion that’s framing our current Corona obsessions. So we have a President who acts like we do not need to think for ourselves as he can personally solve our problems by himself.

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