O, Death!

If a man lives he believes in something. If he did not believe that one must live for something, he would not live. ā€” Leo Tolstoy, A Confession

Another great video by Horses on the topic of Death.

He reflects on thoughts of death and the works of Leo Tolstoy: "The Confession" and "The Death of Ivan Ilyich".

In The Confession, he attempts to find the meaning of life on the examples of science, philosophy, eastern wisdom, and opinions of his fellow writers.

Tolstoy concludes that there are four ways to live in the face of death:

  1. Ignorance: Not think about the absurdity of existence, the problem is once start thinking about these things, you can never go back
  2. Epicureanism: Filling life with pleasure - drinking from an endless supply of honey and ignoring the beast
  3. Suicide: One realizes the foolishness of existence, and have the willpower to end their lives
  4. Acceptance of life (by weakness): clings to life because of the lack of courage to end it all, so you accept it instead.

The Death of Ivan Ilyich is a fantastic companion piece to The Confession, it talks about Ivan, a man who is brought face to face with his own mortality.

I read this in my plane ride back to school from California, and getting a terrifying glimpse into the abyss of death, to experience the agony and suffering of a man to be on the brink of death made me examine my life.

It made me reflect on what it means to truly live, to not be in my death bed and be filled with regrets about the way I lived my life.

It made me wonder the things I'm doing that fulfills the expectations of others, like how Ivan fell for the trappings of status, adoration, success.

It was depressing he felt so isolated in his deathbed, he was surrounded by the most shallow of people, even his wife, and just wanted someone to comfort and cry with him.

After his death, people who went to his funeral did not mourn for Ivan, in fact, they selfishly thought about the promotions they would get, and even annoyed by the tasks they must perform. Broadly, they are filled with joy, that it is Ivan who died, not them

Thinking about death from time to time is a good practice. Memento mori. I hope to truly live, and to be surrounded with people I love, and leave this world in peace.

A life poorly lived only amplifies the horrors of death or create them entirely. So I believe the answer in death is not found in what happens after or during or even why we all must die, but instead in how we live.