Monday, February 25, 2013

"Do not go gentle..."

Do not go gentle into that good night,
Old age should burn and rave at the close of day;
Rage, rage, against the dying of the light.

-          Dylan Thomas

Dylan Thomas, who wrote this beautiful piece, died at only 39 years of age. It’s a nice thought that one might leave life, kicking and fighting, full of spirit. However, I suppose many of us would prefer to do precisely the opposite: to slip away quietly.

It’s not so much that I would fight death. I have no fear of death. Of course, I say that now, but I might sing a different tune when it draws closer. But, then, who knows how close it is? No, it would not be fear of death that would have me burning, raving and raging. It would be the desire to fit as much in as I could in the time available. I want to leave this world with many things left undone, with many hopes and wishes unfulfilled. Does that sound odd? I would rather that than come to a point, while still living, when there was nothing left that I wanted to do, taste, hear, experience. I do not want the last years (months, weeks) of my life to be dull. In that sense, I do not want to slip away quietly. I do not want to die in (let alone of) boredom.

Talk of death is still pretty much taboo in our society. As a species, we rail against death, doing everything we can to prevent it, everything we can to extend the human lifespan, despite the implications of that for the future of this planet. I do not, on a personal level, want to oppose death in that way, and as a species I think we could apply our expertise and money to more useful and interesting ventures. Death is an essential and helpful part of life. Without death we would not be here. Evolution is driven by death: it is the fittest that survive, at least in the natural world. No, that is not what “raging against the dying of the light” means for me. It means holding on for that last wondrous glimpse as the light fades.

Of course, I am aware that in this day and age, this may not be possible. It is entirely possible that my mind will have left long before my body finally fails; or that I will spend my last days in a drugged stupor. And, by then, it might be what I want. Nevertheless, as I write  this now I would like to think that I would savour every last drop of life.

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