Wednesday, January 19

How Confronting the Fear of Death Helps Live a Fuller Life

  • * Roman Krznaric
  • For the BBC


We must develop the courage to explore how awareness of our mortality can help us navigate the now, says the author.

“The word death is not pronounced in New York, in Paris or in London because it burns the lips”, wrote the Mexican essayist and poet Octavio Paz in the 1950s. But for his compatriots, who speak about it and celebrate it at the festival annual Day of the Dead, “is one of his favorite toys and his most unstoppable passion.”

This was probably an exaggeration, even back then, but it raises the question of the role death plays in the art of living. Western culture has developed multiple mechanisms to protect us from the reality of our mortality.

The advertising industry tells us that we will stay young foreverWe avoid talking about death with our children, and we hide the elderly in residences out of our sight and out of our heads.

Frida Kahlo painted her 1943 self-portrait Thinking about death while she was bedridden with already very poor health. And it has been interpreted as a vision of death as a path to another way of life.

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