Author's Note: I wrote this, funnily enough, around an hour before one of my final exams. Despite the rather amusing context, however, this is very much a heavy topic and those who are sensitive to these types of topics shouldn't read this. You have been warned.
It is very much a thought that does not pass by most university students, or mainly our demographic. Nor does it ever really touch those beyond that. The topic of death mostly touches those who are subjected to death itself - not in a mere "spectator" sort of way but when death is within their very midst.
A scary thought to behold, to think that all of these people around me right now, including myself, will cease to exist. Nothing is going to last forever, and the mere worry of an examination is not going to triumph the feeling of death. Is it a matter of achieving the most out of everyone? To influence people to a certain degree?
You see it often how people that die suddenly gain a profound respect and honour as opposed to when they are alive. I've written this down before, but people truly appreciate a person only when they are gone. How are they supposed to feel love and respect if they only receive it when they are in the grave? It is of utmost cruelty, and yet we do it all the time. We'd rather praise someone when they are dead instead of saying it to their face, where there is actual value instead of ceremonious tradition.
Death is a sobering subject to behold due to the realization that time is limited. People around my age will think that they have all the time in the world, but how short is that time really? A freak accident could occur, rendering a 50-60 year extrapolation down to a mere 2-3 months, even days. What would you want to do with your life if you say, had 6 months remaining? 5 months remaining? Even a year? People are motivated by deadlines, but nothing is more motivating than knowing that you will literally cease to exist in the coming months. How do you even process that?
To say that we die means that we also start bearing fruit in the lives of other people, whether that be good or bad. Some plants don't even bear fruit until we inevitably die. A particular fertilizer is needed, and that is death itself. A lot of people's actions don't even change until someone gets hurt, or someone passes away, if they even decide to change.
To fear death is one thing, but to face our mortality eye-to-eye is an entirely different beast to conquer. I am going to sleep whether I like it or not, the time when it happens is not in my control. It is going to happen regardless of what I do. Whether it will be painful or not, who knows, but knowing that my very existence is in the cusp of death itself is painful enough already, even if I am ignorant to the physical pain that I will feel. Even if we deny it or not, we will die, we will sleep. Some people wholly reject that notion entirely, but when it comes like a thief what can you do about it? Immediate regret flushes all sense of rationality and justification of past decisions. The act of saying "I'll do it tomorrow" is a boast that says "I will live another day to do it". How exactly would I know that I'll wake up the next day? It's not like I consciously choose whether or not I will wake up tomorrow. There is not a single time in my entire life where I make that choice. Every day which I wake up is a miracle in itself.
To say that we have life ahead of us is all well and good, but there is a what-if. What if I don't make it for that long? People don't bring that up because the implicit pain of knowing that all will evaporate is too painful for them to bear. I know for me that when disconnected I can be cold towards death, but when I am within the midst of it all it is going to be more painful than I could have imagined. We have set in our subconscious that we will live longer than we will, but when that perception is shattered suddenly the hourglass starts moving. We see our lives tick down before our very eyes. Our perception of time suddenly doesn't become a commodity. The scarcity of time becomes suddenly apparent to us and it can come at full force in the brink of the end.
It has also become taboo in our society to even remotely talk about death, even though it is something that it is pervasive throughout the human condition. You bring up the possibility and the immediate reaction is "Don't talk about that!" Of course, social context is important, but are the lives of people going to consist of denying the possible until it's too late? And in the same vein, are we going to constantly contemplate on death when there is a life to live up to?