No one lives for free – it’s a quote I’ve learned to cherish in reading Neil Gaiman’s “Death: The High Cost of Living”, the namesake of this little slice of webspace I’m writing it.
How often do we think that life is boring and uneventful — like the excitement has been sapped from it once we figured out that the world was round, that there were seven continents and being told where babies come from. I’ve had those days and I’m sure you’ve had them too and if you’re anything like me, your mind wonders for a while about how it would feel to just take a step back and take a breather to figure out the whole cogwork of the universe.
The irony however, is that you can’t. The only breather you’ll be able to take is the one that awaits at the end of the tunnel – in death.
Death puts everything into perspective. As morbid as people might accuse my fascination and appreciation of it, it’s something I’ve learned to be very conscious of and thus has given me a fonder appreciation for life. Honestly, I can’t imagine a life without an end because what’s the point then?
We can keep living without consequence or always live in fear of getting hurt if life didn’t have its deadline and what kind of life would that be? The reality of death thrusts upon us the beauty of living – the fact that the life given to you is a miracle in itself is a testament to that fact. Have you ever thought about that? The fact that you were created out of the infinite possibilities of your two parents meeting and their parents meeting (so on and so forth) up to the precise moment when out of an infinite number of possibilities that you, would come into existence is a miracle that we often neglect to appreciate.
It is this reason that Neil Gaiman’s portrayal of Death isn’t the grim, dark hooded figure popular media shows him to be but instead, Death takes the form of a beautiful girl who just takes everything as it is – better or worse. She loves and accepts everyone from all walks of life which in turn puts our lives back into our hands – Death is just there waiting for us in the end, how we get there is our choice to make.
A perplexing idea comes then in the idea of free will. Life by itself can be thrown away in indulgences or be lived with a reckless abandon thinking that “we’re all gonna die anyway” but I adhere to the contrary; that life can be made into something of meaning. Free will allows us to do that and whether it be God or some other cosmic anomaly, we are given that privilege to not be slaves to our urges.
Free will allows us to leave something behind in the world despite our deadlines and to make our life matter to the people who will succeed us. Conscious of that fact, we also have an obligation. Since we are the one in a million possibilities to be given life, responsibility is thrust upon us to make something of it because to throw away our right to live is to spit in the face of all those other possibilities that could have taken your life’s stead.
You do not live for free, nobody does – we’re all accountable to something because we are given that chance to “Be”. Seeing our life as boring and using that as an excuse to off ourselves then becomes such a redundant argument.
The universe may always remain a mystery to us and our life’s existence may be constituted of completely random consequences but in the course of things, we just have to take those consequences and shape them into something truly ours just so that at the end of the tunnel we can present it to Death with a sheepish smile, embarrassed and a bit unsure, that says “well, this is all I’ve made of myself.”
And you know what? She’d just smile back and give you a kiss on a cheek because that’s who she is. She’s there for everyone; what you give to her isn’t going to matter as much as what you think about it, whether or not you can kick the bucket being content with what your life has amounted to. No one lives for free and what you pay for a life is the High Cost of Living.