The Strength of Death

A few weeks ago, my family and I drove to the gravesite of my uncle who had passed away one year ago from that day. Along with having disfigured the remembrance gifts we previously left, the painful windburn of the cold graveyard attacked our faces within seconds of leaving the vehicle. To pay respects, my mother reveals a hexagon-shaped box from her pocket. The box contained dozens of burgundy and gold-colored incense sticks to be lit as Chinese tradition. My father pulls out a lighter to burn the incense, but the piercingly-cold air objects. We quickly devise a plan—to light the incense sticks within the car. As my parents swiftly jog to the car, I am left alone with the grave of my uncle, and the sight of a group of twenty other individuals that have also come to mourn a loved one. Their arms were extended outwards as they waddled towards the grave together—mimicking a family of penguins.

Photo by Daria Rom on Unsplash

It struck me that the graveyard was the common room for all of us despite our different circumstances. The graveyard was the lobby room for parties of three and twenty, of Asian, Black, White, and Hispanic descent, of young and old, of rich and poor, and everything in between. The graveyard is a symbolic representation of death, and is the vehicle for which unites everyone, stemming from a common sorrow. Oddly enough, death is the vehicle that unites us more often than life itself. As sobering as it is, the unity that comes with death is one factor that inspires me to water the seeds of any potential relationship I come across. In our day-to-day experiences, many of us dedicate a finite amount of attention to our relationships. However, we consciously allocate much of our energy to emotionally-vacant tasks, and do things like binge-watching Game of Thrones. We implicitly brush aside the genesis of our relationships with others, and the long-term cost is a detriment to our emotional and social health. In the instance of death, shockwaves are sent throughout the roots of an individual’s relational tree. It’s a 9–1–1 call to anyone that has ever known the individual, with a zero-percent chance for rescue. The individual’s family, friends, acquaintances, colleagues and all that fall in between are brought together by the sobering reality of what is the end. Life comes in the form of an hourglass with an unspecified amount of grains of sand, whereas the strength of death is constituted by its permanence. Life can end when we‘ve just celebrated our 100th birthday, or before we’ve left our mother’s stomach. While life does not last forever, death does, and to me is a far stronger force. This has helped me realize the importance of developing and maintaining strong relationships, which has been a strong indicator of how I feel in the present.

Death is the vestibule between mortality and full spirituality—between what is known and what isn’t. It is the lone opponent that no one has ever defeated or outlasted. Life on the other hand is our ultimate unifier — the common denominator between not just you and I—but with any human that has ever walked this Earth. Life is cherished because of the inevitability of Death, and the magnitude of Death is universal as it halts the one-way street of Life. They are Yin and Yang—opposite forces that are complimentary through their spiritual interdependence.

Photo by Helena Lopes on Unsplash

In addition to building these relationships, the inevitability of death gives fruitful reason to embrace the rollercoaster of life. For someone like me whose life has often felt mundane and frivolous, it is the exact reason for why I should hop on that rollercoaster and throw both hands into the sky. It is the exact reason why I should buy plane tickets to Paris and Japan, drop an album, or do something out of my comfort zone. For someone else, it may mean picking up and using the dusty camera that was gifted to them last Christmas, or to book that rustic Airbnb in Switzerland with a few friends.

I often think about the tremendous luck that has favored me in being born with “normal” circumstances. For my whole life, I’ve been financially and mentally stable, able-bodied, and so much more. I’ve been gifted with conditions that billions simply don’t have. As a note to my future self, I should best leverage these gifts now while I am young and without true time-absorbing responsibilities. As much as fear of the unknown is a deterrent, regret counters as a motivator. I want to live both right now and in the future.

Photo by Luca Bravo on Unsplash



Songwriter. Dreamer. Believer.

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