Courage is almost a contradiction in terms. It means a strong desire to live taking the form of a readiness to die. “He that will lose his life, the same shall save it,” is not a piece of mysticism for saints and heroes. It is a piece of everyday advice for sailors or mountaineers. It might be printed in an Alpine guide or a drill book. This paradox is the whole principle of courage; even of quite earthly or quite brutal courage.
A man cut off by the sea may save his life if he
will risk it on the precipice.
He can only get away from death by continually stepping within an
inch of it. A soldier surrounded by enemies, if he is to cut his way
out, needs to combine a strong desire for living with a strange
carelessness about dying. He must not merely cling to life, for then he
will be a coward, and will not escape. He must not merely wait for
death, for then he will be a suicide, and will not escape. He must seek
his life in a spirit of furious indifference to it; he must desire life
like water and yet drink death like wine.
.......................................................................................................................... GK Chesterton
Friday, November 04, 2011
Wednesday, November 02, 2011
The human body is frail; though when you are young and healthy you tend believe otherwise but the truth is that it’s matter and succumbs to entropy. I think one of the things that stresses and depresses people when they advance in years is that creeping realisation that your body is giving out on you, most times (you think) before you’ve had the chance to do much with it. I don’t fall sick often but for the occasional bout of the common cold and have always been reluctant to visit the physician but in the most dire of circumstances. In fact, I have always had the concept of medical bills and how high they can be at the back of my mind. When I was younger and my medical bills were the responsibility of someone else, I learned how heavy a burden that could be and I came to bear the notion that unless it’s a matter of life and death, I have no business troubling anyone with that ‘ka slight twitch of the pinkie’ that happens every now and then. As for life and death, if I’m conscious then it’s time for saving my ass, otherwise kwaheri world.
So there I was, standing over the saucepan of potatoes, fork in one hand trying to tease that nice big potato onto the plate in the other when the lights went out. Last thing I heard was the plate fall and shatter and then nothing until I came to, a minute later, lying on the kitchen floor with the saucepan of potatoes between my legs. For a minute I was terrified, scared of the fact that if it had been more serious I would have probably lain there until the mourning. Then I fully came to and started wondering where the consciousness goes in such moments; I mean, you’re not here but for an empty husk and you’re not there for there is no memory of the other place. So where?
On thinking about it some more, I realised that my body’s been doing this for years, the passing out I mean. There are times when I’m taking a leak, especially when I’ve been ‘tying’, and I feel myself go woozy for a few seconds and then an incredible rush of life and energy and aaaaaaah! It’s close to ecstasy and probably death. Thankfully it’s never happened whilst playing ‘hide the sausage’. It does however remind me of my mortality, and makes me think of what would happen if it were serious. Then I realise that I need somebody else to care about my body because oftentimes I don’t respect it that much. I once had a monologue where I threatened to toss it off a bridge when I was done with it and it calmly threatened to give me ‘Pirellis’ and throw me in ditches if I decided to binge on the finer things. I have learnt that we need other people to take care of us when we can’t do it for ourselves and that that is a very huge part of why we attach ourselves to others, why we are bonded to family and the closest of friends, why we came down from the trees.
I love my body and know it has a weakness for the things material and that I should not let it get carried away with them but it is still only flesh and will wither and die in time. I do not desire to hasten to this end but I know it is always close, never as far off as we like to tell ourselves. Apparently, so I heard some professor or doctor say, we don’t like to think about it often because of the paralysis it would induce in us, the knowing that the end is never far off would apparently cripple us to the point of inaction. It has always been on my mind since I truly became aware of it and I guess it has crippled and killed a few wants and desires in me but if anything, it has helped me act with a singular purpose for I know that it is a brief story I live.
Not to worry though, if you have any affection for me and fear that I will leave you here, a little less than you should be. I desire no such end, not to hurt in anyway but only to love, to care, to give a damn and I know it must start within my soul and to be honest, the story was begun long before I got here and I am but a brief chapter in your book of life. I walk in when the storm comes, to tell you that the thunder is but the voice of God, the fierce wind her infinite mercy and the darkness will be gone when your eyes open to the new dawn. And then I walk out, the chapter closed, my story to you told.
I want you to promise me one thing; that when I walk out, you will sing me a sad love song and bury me in the sky.