There’s no way to get around it. If you’re alive, you’re going to die. But I’m not ready yet. That’s too bad. If you’re up in years or your body is aging faster than it should, time is not on your side. Have you ever observed a beautiful flower keep its radiance indefinitely? Unless it’s plastic, it withers and returns to the earth to be regenerated again in the natural scheme of all life on earth. Unless you’re plastic, you’ll wither to dust and regenerate into eternal life, if you have faith and trust there is a Creator, an enduring, stable and abiding force.

But who wants to live a plastic, or artificial life? After fighting cancer for over three years, I’m weary of it. And after conquering colon cancer, which was like a long vicious dog fight, the remaining dormant cancer cells went to my bones and began thriving there. And now it’s another all-out battle to determine if my bones take me down deep or the poisons they inject inside me provide a bit more life of dubious quality. It gives one something else to agonize about — day and night.

How and when will I pass on, and is there a way to prepare for it? Most “normal” human beings fear death, especially when it begins to close in, and that’s no way to end life. Humans have agonized over those questions since our time began. There are several ideas I’ve gathered from sages and the wise to reduce or eradicate that all-encompassing fear.

Marcus Aurelius, a Roman Emperor and philosopher (A.D.121-180) wrote: “You could die very quickly but you have time to rid yourself of your passions. Be humble to everyone.” Henri Amiel, Swiss writer (1821-1881), wrote that upon death, “a human should return their soul to their Creator.” Leo Tolstoy, the great Russian writer (1828-1910) wrote: "if, as Socrates said, death is the state in which we abide during our sleep made permanent, we all know this state and know there is nothing terrible in it. And if death is a transfer to a better life as many people think, then death is not evil but a blessing." And Tolstoy also wrote: “The more spiritual a life a person leads, the less he is afraid of death for a spiritual person death means setting the spirit free from the body. Such a person knows the things for which he lives cannot be destroyed."

In his book, “HOW TO DIE” translated and edited by James Romm, Seneca, a Roman philosopher and statesman in (4 B.C.-65 A.D.) stated that “pleasures were not to be shunned, but in their impermanence, they counted not at all for true happiness, which came exclusively from cultivating the divine rational faculty in every human being.” This faculty appropriately exercised brought one into alignment with the cosmos itself that “passes through cycles of death and rebirth.”

All that is helpful to know, but not easy to put into practice. In my disturbing and persistent thoughts, I must strive to remain a permanent part of the cosmos. And I should guide my spirit to set my body free and finish my life with a flourish.

But why me, Lord? Tried living a decent life without hurting anyone. Tried raising a honorable family and they turned out exceptionally well, despite not paying much attention to me. Tried educating as many of America’s youth as I could, but not all of them realized how diagramming sentences would help them learn to become successful in life. Tried being a good husband, but, at times, my wonderful wife intimated it wasn’t quite good enough. There’s not space here to list my shortcomings.

My doctor, who is evidently becoming weary of scanning my frequent pet scans, told me that at my age, it’s near time for death anyway. But he’s willing to try providing me with some more “quality” time. So, why not me? That’s what my long life has been, a composite one that’s traveled to realms beyond all expectations. It couldn’t have been better, unless I’d been more considerate of others.

Those cycles of death and rebirth sound good to me. There should be much less fear of death if I remember that after my next rebirth, I exert more effort to loving others, who needed more than what I’ve received. Loving thy self to excess can become rather boring, does it not?

— Contact Terry Cummins at TLCTLC@AOL.com.

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