The Death of an Unlucky Impala

deathThe idea of death is certainly unsettling, but it is a reality for every being. Great or small, we will all meet that fate one day.

There is arrogance in humanity and I regret it. I’m as guilty as anyone else.

The old truism in news reporting is that a death in my neighbourhood is more compelling news than a number of deaths in a nearby city or many deaths in another continent. We are wired to feel a greater impact if the tragedy befalls someone in our family, community, nation or race than if it wipes out some other poor sod.

We’re also often detached in the way we view the death of other species. The whole meat industry is built on our belief that we have a right to consume other species. I make no judgement about that. I enjoy a BBQ as much as anyone.

Accepting Death

I’m also mindful of how many wildlife shows I’ve seen where a lion chases down an unlucky impala. Again, it is a reality of life that Leo needs to eat.

I’ve sat watching and have been completely complacent and understanding as the lights went out for a creature that had just been happily snacking on a mouthful of grass.

Here is my arrogance. I can fret about my own plight and potential demise and to me it is a truly enormous issue. There is none bigger right? When my lights go out nobody will be as deeply affected as me. We will each face our own individual moment.

So, why is my end more significant or meaningful from a universal perspective than the poor old impala? Why should it be of any greater cosmic impact? Sure my loved ones will miss me. It will have a ripple effect in a slightly wider circle as well.

But, let’s face it, in the grand scheme of things, it does not matter much. I was and then I am not.

In a couple of generations there will be nobody who even really remembers me. I am just a line entry in a family tree.

I am not saddened or despondent about this realisation of my insignificance. To the contrary, I feel accepting death helps me get a grip on reality. Otherwise, I can get all twisted about the drama of my plight. That seems counterproductive to me and it will detract from the enjoyment of whatever time I have left.

While my death will be final and complete for me, I just need to accept it in perspective. Every being has a time appointed. Let’s get on with life while we can, and fulfill each day to the best we can.

What am I?

I’ve been pondering my own insignificance. There is this massive universe out there with countless stars.

Many of those stars (presumably) have planets orbiting around them. Then those planets, in turn, have their moons. Each dot in the massive cloud cluster of light I see in the night sky is a solar system of phenomenal scale. The whole reality is staggering. It simply short circuits my understanding.

Nor do I understand the atomic realities of life. We are each millions of atoms which form the cells that build the limbs and organs that comprise our body. Zap, another fuse blows.

Then there is the whole chemical compound concept to wrap my grey matter around. The water on earth repeatedly goes through the rain and evaporation cycle. Elements in that harmless looking glass of water may once have been held in an Arctic glacier or have even been dinosaur urine. Ewww. Another crackle and a puff of smoke!

If my body is mainly made of carbon, were those bodily elements once part of a block of coal, a drop of oil or a diamond? Were the other chemicals once part of a tree or a plant eaten by a dinosaur that, in turn, fertilised the earth and was then taken up in another plant or animal after being digested. Confusing stuff isn’t it? Maybe there is a chemical truth in reincarnation.

When I factor in all this scale from the atomic to the universal and grapple with chemistry I am simply overwhelmed. I accept these concepts as truths. I just don’t know how to deal with them.

Does it matter though? I think not. It is what it is. I can’t comprehend how life starts or where a spirit goes afterward. It just is what it is.

Actually, I am quite content to accept death and its inevitability.


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  1. Angeline Yarger says:

    I love your candor and the delivery makes me smile, which is something considering the topic. I have to say I may have some difficulty enjoying the next BBQ though. Thank you for sharing your article on this topic. It was really helpful. Angie.

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