An Ode To Death, Inspired By Bertrand Russell

That we are not perfect is widely accepted. Why else do we need to work towards the betterment of ourselves? Not that we all do it as much as we ought to, and in this busy world where there are a million things to do, it just gets harder.

I came about this quote from Bertrand Russell, a part of his essay “On History”. A very worthwhile, if arduous, read.

The past alone is truly real: the present is but a painful, struggling birth into the immutable being of what is no longer. Only the dead exist fully. The lives of the living are fragmentary, doubtful, and subject to change; but the lives of the dead are complete, free from the sway of Time, the all-but omnipotent lord of the world. Their failures and successes, their hopes and fears, their joys and pains, have become eternal – our efforts cannot now abate one jot of them. Sorrows long buried in the grave, tragedies of which only a fading memory remains, loves immortalized by Death’s hallowing touch – these have a power, a magic, an untroubled calm, to which no present can attain.

It simultaneously accepts death, and gives us – the living – a reason to rejoice in our imperfections. We can be perfect when we are dead. Now, is the time to become better, for we are not perfect now.

It is an ode to the transience of life. That life can be miserable for some people is well known, and for some others, life is a party, a festival to enjoy the fruits of the billions of years of evolution.

In either case, there will come a time, in each of our lives, when these won’t matter. Perhaps this sounds emo, on the surface. But, it is one additional reason for us to accept what we have, what we can do about the time we are given, because in the end, our time will end – and when it does, we will take to our grave what we’ve left behind as the living.

Thanks for reading. What would you like to share?