DEATH MAY COME AT MIDNIGHT; DIE FULFILLED ONE MORE DAY
Permit me to speak of death on the fifth day of a new year. But we know between January 1 and 4, not less than a thousand have died in the world. When we hear of death statistically, we are not disappointed. We do not fuss, no fuming, no worry nor headache about it. Why? Because death is a certainty of life, just as is breathing a certainty of life. Death is as sure a fact of the universe as is the sun’s rising from the east. When man does not die, i.e. when the breath of life, the spirit, does not depart the man to return to God alone is when the sun rises from the west. Even Jesus experienced death. It is appointed for all men to die once. It is not because you are inhuman that you do not quarrel nor are personally bothered about statistical deaths when you hear it.
Statistics show us that the following facts hold:
Insurgence and terrorism result in the death of about 400 people daily.
Malaria result in the death of more than 3,000 daily.
Cancer result in the death of more than of 500 daily in the UK alone.
COVID-19 result in the death of about 3,000 daily.
In a day, an average of 150,000 die in the world. Alarming? No, feels natural, to some extent. Death is impersonal, and we treat it objectively so.
What scares us is not death. What scares us is dying, the way we end up in death. When those we know personally end up in death, we do not talk about their death; we lament or rejoice over their dying. We celebrated the dying of people we believe have spent their lives meaningfully and impactfully. When their show is over, we agree that they have played their part well.
But those who die unsuccessfully are ‘wasted’, leaving nothing behind that can be attributed for what the spending of their lives have been, we lament. We weep for them not because of the death but because of the dying. There are many ways we comment the regret of their way of dying such as in the ‘untimeliness’, the ‘prematurity’, the ‘void’, etc. When it grows personal to us and we mourn, it is the dying that causes us to mourn. This is not a philosophical view or perspective to the case of death and dying. It is the truth that any man with a little pondering of it would figure out.
Let us talk about some statistics of dying. But before then, some features we may identify the statistics with. Dying, though being not a quantitative thing but qualitative, not objective but subjective, can be seen to create two strains of mourning. The first is merry, happy; the dead leaves a people with an ambience of peace and comfort however little. The second is sad, sorrowful; the dead leaves a people with an ambience of wailing and discomfort however minute.
The first type of dying causes us to think of our possibilities, what we can become in life if we desire and commit to it. It reminds us of the endless abilities of man, the heroic claims we can make on ourselves, that we can demand of our innate capacities. When we merely hear of the ‘dying’ of those who have this manner of dying, we are quickened, animated and inspired to live life to the fullest and earn that kind of dying. It is a dying that the world worships because the world seeks such kind of departure. That, like the decomposed bones of Elisha raised the dead, our dying might bring life to someone else, is an inherent desire within us all. Thus, we admire it, stretch towards it when and where we witness it.
‘Life waits for no one and death waits for all.’
The second type of dying causes us to think of our fears, what can become of us in life if we do not act promptly on our goals. It reminds us of the fact that life waits for no one and death waits for us all. It signifies to us that our goals cannot be respected tomorrow if we fail to do them today, that our happiness tarry into tomorrow when we shift it from today. We do not like to be reminded, but alas, this grim dying reminds us that no one lives in tomorrow, and we all have got only today. Either we fulfil purpose in today itself or we become forgotten. We may delay all the usefulness we should make of ourselves and the world around us, but this dying reminds us that we are making a waste, reminds us of the foolish rich man who tells himself, ‘I will say to my soul, Soul you have much goods laid up for many years; take your ease, eat, drink and be merry.’ That we might be that foolish man ourselves, taking ease at the world. Postponing the moment we are going to use our talents and creative faculties into the many days ahead. Because we suppose by our marvellous intelligence, beauty, popularity, wealth, talents, skilfulness, whatever it might be which has the ability to earn us riches are ‘laid up for many years.’ This dying reminds us that we are foolish, and no one likes to be called a fool.
Statistics of the first type of dying can be easily found. Leonaidas and the three hundred who died at the hot gates in Sparta made a beautiful victory against Persia in their death. Einstein’s death was monumental because he stopped not even at the suggestion of his father to relent from creating the relativity theories which led to him being the first theoretical physicist who won the Nobel Prize. Moremi’s death remains a song today because her she lived a heroic woman to the people of Ife. We can never forget the Wright brothers, mere bicycle mechanics whose father (an orthodox priest) told they would burn in hell for trying to fly; we cannot forget them in the pages of history because they brought us the increased riches of the world in inventing the airplane.
Lest we think it is about the age of death, it is not. We remember the amazing letters to God written by Tyler Doughtie who died in 2005 inspired a foundation for cancer; death came to him at a young age, but his dying was peace and happy because he did not allow the idea to go at ease to winning the world only when he becomes an adolescent or adult get to him. Could he be the only youth with this remarkable contribution before dying? John Keats left died age 25 of tuberculosis. Death never tells you, ‘I am coming.’ Today he is a ‘father’ of Romance poetry from England, who did not father a child. There are today many aged men whose death revealed the dying of a wasted life. We cry for them because there is no real legacy we can celebrate after them. Some of these aged people claim to have left their children or family; but these living are struggling to find their identity and know what may become of them. It is not, in the end, about the age. Could this honoured dying that draws from us joyous, courageous and heartfelt tears be in the manner death meets us?
No, not in gentle departure on the bed after they have aged. Some ever have that kind of death, and it is coveted. But we know the Wakanda hero Chadwick Aaron Boseman whose death was of pain in cancer. We celebrate his living in his death. We don’t think we haven’t told him we love him enough than we are overpowered by his love for us that kept him making the sacrifice and giving the world his best even while he is dying. We know great men who have left the stage of life through airplane crashes or car accidents, but what they leave behind still leads the world to a better place. T.E. Lawrence of Arabia died in a motorbike crash but never do we forget his contribution to the 1914 war in leading Arabs against the Turks. Well do we remember William Wallace of Scotland who in the thirteenth century was beheaded by the king of England because he, motivated by love, stood for a free Scotland. Betrayed unto death, he never begged for mercy to be a slave, but demanded freedom until his last words. Just as the world was still at his slaughter, we remain still today when we remember his death, and the freedom that came to Scotland from there. Awolowo of Yorubaland was murdered in cold blood; but he remains identified today as the greatest, most inspiring leader Yorubaland ever has in modern times. He is the picture perfect of Yoruba leadership.
It has nothing to do with the age of awakening as well, not that being past the age of 40 or 50 reduces us to the dying of the second, grim death. We can still live in the manner that we have the positive, respected dying. The one that leaves our family not with sadness really but with awareness and appreciation of their encounter with us. We can live in that manner even when we become awakened to this manner of peaceful death aged 80 or 90.
We cannot list all the people who have died this kind of death. I know a man, Ezekiel Akinyemi, who died a preacher in Ibadan, Nigeria. I don’t think I have met a preacher like him in person. I have only heard in distant calls of space and time of such manner of preachers who know what they preach and how to preach it with such meekness and loftiness of awareness that the audience is always uplifted in the grace of their teaching. I heard of Russell Conwell at least. Yes, Ezekiel was one. When I heard of his death in February 2020, I greatly missed that we were supposed to have an appointment for scheduled teachings. But past that, I rejoiced. Not for his age; countless other 80+ have died anyway. But here was a man who never retired until death. He continued to teach until his last breath, and has raised more preachers than I have seen any single man do in Nigeria. Amongst his own, he remains a beautiful memory. We see through the love and courage, passion and dedication of these people enough to not hold them selfishly from death. We gladly surrender them and let their rest be peaceful.
Of the second type of dying, we all look helplessly. On December 25, 2020, a close friend of mine received the death announcement of two relatives well known to her. They had both died on the same day, December 24. It was not a healthy thing to her, not because of the death but because of their dying. All she had said intensely was ‘they were both promising young men for their families’. There was all hope on them, but they never themselves did the thing. They crushed the hopes of the living because they kept the music within them till death. That was their dying, that they suppose life was going to wait for them while death was going to carry on elsewhere. That is not true. We all meet Uncle Death on the way. He is waiting for us. But we can live only when we are on the train of our life anyway, rather than wait. The opportunities we skip, the works we do not complete, the ideas we leave buried in us. I am speaking to you now that there is no tomorrow to do them. You do them today, begin even when it appears you don’t have the means, resources and power. ‘Do the thing and you will get the power to do the thing,’ is a saying that you want to think on. Waiting to do them tomorrow is having death meet you today waiting. That’s about what the second dying is. We cannot even count names for there is neither something particular to identify them with. There are many John Keats. If you doubt me, Google or Facebook it. But there is only one John Keats, father of Romance Poetry. Amongst the plenty other John Keats will be some who have their names remembered, too. But most they are whose names are never heard. In a community of 100 people, one or two are they whose dying is honourable regardless of age, profession or riches. The rest are wailed for, for the selfishness they have made in keeping their usefulness and benefit from the world, taking all the promises unfulfilled to death.
When you hear death and you fear, it is not death, my dear, that you fear. No one fears it. We are aware of the presence of death in every moment that we skip it for the next breath. It is dying that you are afraid of. Because something can be done about it, but nothing so far has been done by you. If you die today, there is no legacy you have left the world, is there? Not one life more can lead a fulfilment in memory of you, is there? No one can identify what you have done remarkably unique contributing to the world, is there? This is what you are afraid of, dear friend. The relief being though that ‘something can be done about it’.
That is what we should set to now, doing something about it. I mean doing something about your manner of living NOW. Refuse to believe that you cannot live a great life until tomorrow. The rich fool was just like that, and he was a fool albeit rich. Refuse to believe that because there is a Red Sea, you will not march out of Egypt. Refuse to believe that because you are in the prison, you will not joseph yourself to interpret dreams helping others. Refuse to believe that because you are having five loaves of bread with two fish, it cannot serve four thousand men and more in the number of women and children. Refuse to believe these things then wait until tomorrow. Now is the day of your life’s salvation. Now is the time to do it.
Read the above again. When you accept the conditions of life as is and you let them define for you the way you live, helplessly leading yourself to die in the sad way, you may admit that ‘you choose to believe it’. That life has not shown you any resistance which can break your will unless you ‘choose to give in’, to ‘be at ease’. Unless you choose to accept that you are too poor to sell your idea to the world, your conditions do not hold you down. Unless you choose to accept that the doctor’s diagnosis cannot let you live in a healthy harmony with your body, illness cannot keep you down. It is you who chooses to believe these things, good or bad. Not when they have happened, not because they have happened, but when you imagine them to happen; and your imagination becomes the reality.
What then can you do?
Choose to believe in the possibilities. Choose to believe in your capacity for good. Choose to believe that you can do the thing now and be on purpose now. Choose to believe you can focus, determine, achieve and spread happiness wherever you go. Choose to believe you can invent your ideas, discover the universe’s secrets, lead a great life that if death comes in the midnight, the world will wake to a happy morning.
Death may come at midnight; you can do nothing about that. Die fulfilled one more day; you can do all things about this.
This is an extension of the OVERFLOW OF ENGRAFT, which started in October 2020. This extension, 365 Days of ENGRAFT, is one of the personal development release for ENGRAFT SOCIETY, designed to bring every person to the awareness of Success and Happiness in their lives. I invite you to join ENGRAFT SOCIETY today. Get a copy of ENGRAFT for our free invitation to ENGRAFT SOCIETY, become a part of our personal and team development programs and bring yourself to new levels of success beyond your wildest expectations.
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