It is not uncommon to hear people say someone died “before time”. You have probably made the same statement yourself at some point in time or the other, so you should be able to answer what criteria define timely death, right? Let’s think together, what are the necessary and/or sufficient conditions for death? Anyway we answer that question would probably imply that for it to be humanly considered ‘okay’ for a person to die he or she must have left something tangible behind, so that death doesn’t make the person a snake that passed over a rock with no prints as witness.

Our definitions of footprint vary. Some people define footprints by the presence of children to uphold the family legacy, continue the family heritage, and fulfill the deceased’s goals and ambitions. According to this definition, when people see the children they are reminded of the deceased; the children are therefore proof that the deceased once lived.

Another viewpoint defines footprints in terms of wealth. According to holders of this viewpoint a person could be considered to have truly lived if he or she was a person of affluence, considered as a member of the exclusive “high and mighty”, in a sphere or the other of society. To holders of this viewpoint, musical albums, streets, buildings, estates, monuments and things named after the dead are proof of their fulfilled and accomplished life.

Yet another viewpoint defines footprint in terms of total service to God. Holders of this viewpoint define life as an extension of a divine plan and human life as the instrument of the Supreme Being in his perpetuation of his will on earth. Footprints in this viewpoint are divine “assignments” which are seen as a sign of God’s trust in them and as his recognition of their will and capability to serve him. Death in this viewpoint is ‘timely’ if it occurs after submission of a life to the will of God; an assurance that death is but a gateway to eternal paradise.

However we may choose to define footprints and the criteria that justify death, we must note that in postulating the timeliness of death we forget our incapacity as humans. There is more to life than we confront in daily phenomena; certainly more than we understand, study and can analyze, despite our profound advances in science and technology whether we like it or not. Life is therefore a sphere beyond our limited understanding, thus making us rather unsuitable judges for the timeliness of death. How do we explain the death of the new born? Or justify the stillborn?

Perhaps there is an end which the life of each of us is a means to, and death is the phenomenal proof of its achievement. We, each of us, have our natural propensities that somewhat shape our lives: the things we say, the people we meet, the persons we become, the places we go, and the things we do- all of which add up to fulfill the purpose of our existence… I hope.

It is perhaps in view of this that I define life as the birth of death. From the moment we are born, all life becomes a movement towards its end and its physical end- conceptualized as death. The best you can get out of life then is to live your life as you want to; not as everyone else expects you to. You do not know when or how you are going to die so, like a popular art says:

Laugh when you can, apologize when you should, and let go of things you can’t change. Kiss slowly, play hard, forgive quickly, take chances, give everything, and have no regrets.

Life is too short to be anything but happy!


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