What are you most afraid of? What keeps you up at night thinking to the point of feeling nervous, heart beats faster, sweating, and, sometimes, losing your mind? And then, all of a sudden, there’s this other side of you telling yourself that everything you heard, saw, felt, and experienced could be explained in more or less logical terms. Fear, as you come to know it, is a psychological expedient; while depression, on the other hand, is the result of a chemical imbalance within your system.
But, of all kinds of fears, what are you really most afraid of? Fear has been considered as mankind’s oldest and strongest of emotions. And the fear of the unknown is the oldest and strongest kind of fear. Let me pick one type of fear of the unknown we could discuss about, and that’s death. Because no one who have gone there had ever come back alive (except for Lazarus who was restored to life by Jesus, and that one particular unknown dead man in the Old Testament who was buried in prophet Elisha’s tomb and accidentally touched his bones.)
Are you afraid of death? I do, and I had to assume that mostly all of us feel the same way, too. Most of us are afraid to die because we simply have had too much to live for. Some people are afraid to die simply because of fear for all of those they would be leaving behind: Earthly possessions, fame, loved ones, and the list could go on.
But there are quite a few people who are comfortable to say on why they’re not afraid to die. And some of these people are those who are almost there. They have considered it to be just a natural thing and that you don’t even have to talk about it.
But hey, seriously, it’s also a natural thing for most people to simply feel the fear of death. When you go to bed each night you may sometimes entertain the thought like “What if I don’t wake up?” Or “In what manner or way in which I may die?”
Here’s a sonnet I wrote for a very scary experience I, along with my wife and a two-year-old son, had during last year’s (sometime in the first week of July) boat ride from Surigao City to Cebu City. We were actually on a week-long vacation in my hometown, one of the towns in the province of Agusan del Norte, and took the Surigao route by boat on our way back to Cebu. At the pier in Surigao, the sea was calm and you could never see any signs of impending danger waiting halfway on.
The boat braved a violent sea of strong winds and big waves as it pierced through the dark of the night. There was a time in that night when I thought the boat could have sunk and we would have all gotten drowned. Some passengers were vomiting from sea sickness; others were praying silently, trembling. I was thinking: If I’m going to be drowned, how it would be like to die from drowning?
You may try pondering at my sonnet:
I Always Thought That Life’s A Breath To Hold
The instinct not to breathe underwater is so strong that it overcomes the agony of running out of air.—Sebastian Junger, The Perfect Storm
I always thought that life’s a breath to hold
When, all submerged, the underwater scent’s
A poison that kills even the most bold
Of warriors, declaring a wrath, still went
No farther than what he can only keep
For himself, and for how long he could last
With every moment’s pull towards the deep;
The creeping hand that takes away so fast
And left with no other thing but finding
How he can truly make himself afloat
And gains back the sweetest sense of breathing
Freely—what else matters most and a lot?
While there are lives a drowning it may seem
The Sea would keep them all up to claim
That horrible experience has served me many good things since. My understanding has widened and I was able to develop such an antidote, serving as my means of comfort and strength whenever I’m faced with danger or difficulty, to some of my greatest phobias (fear of loss of control, fear of death or the act of dying, fear of the unknown, and so on): None of us could get out of here alive.
I watched my two-year-old son in the deep of his slumber as the boat swayed from side to side. I could hear he was even snoring to some point. He knows nothing at all to all of this. He neither understands what death is nor the stuff the adults in his life were caring about. I pondered: If he’s not worried, why should I be, too?
If your time has come it will find you wherever you are and whatever you’re doing. You shall not be able to avoid her sting. When you know your purpose in life, serving God the way He wants you to, you would have nothing left to worry about. Yes, not even death itself can scare you.