Living in Connection with Death

in ecotrain •  2 months ago  (edited)

Do I live a healthy life to avoid or postpone death?

Death is perhaps the harshest of inevitabilities we face on this Earth, one that we have little control over. We are incarnated in fleshy body suits with a given set of genetic coding. Born into a family (which “some” may say we choose) within a complex set of circumstances (the same “some” may say it’s due to past karma) that we must navigate.

I don’t see death as an end of life or as an opposing force to life, rather I see it as a unique (and maybe definitive) part of life. The interwoven nature of life and death could forever be pondered but never be fully understood…

Death is like gravity, thirst or  hunger; we all feel it eventually.

As a child death seemed like forever away, and now that I’m into my 30s, I’m seeing it more closely. It seems more real now, more visceral. The death of my Oma when I was 16 was the first close encounter with death I have been touched by it more and more each year.

Roadkill deer harvest

Death isn’t in opposition to health

I see life as a gift, a rare opportunity to inhabit the Earthly sphere. We can respond to it in a myriad of ways. One major example is the style(s) of life we choose live out. No amount of “healthy lifestyle choices” can postpone death immediately, but I do believe they can improve the time between now and then. Even the most ardent followers of ANY regime succumb to the worldly experience of death, *so why live a healthy life?*

I’ve been chewing on and digesting (pun intended) the idea of health since some illuminating experiences when I was 18. It started with a radical departure from my comfort zone, was followed up by a potent dream that prompted a 8.5 year veganic experiment and has since morphed into an immersive permaculture lifestyle. Lately I’m more in touch with death than at any other time of my life and I feel all the more alive for it.

We were asked whether we live healthy live to avoid or postpone death. I see becoming more intimate and comfortable with death is one way I live a healthier life. Since committing 100% of myself to an Earth based lifestyle, I have become much closer to death in some ways. By that I mean it has touched my life more deeply and frequently.

We lost a dog last year. I killed my first deer to fill our larders. I’ve killed thousand of tiny plants while weeding. I’ve been responsible for the death of billions of microorganisms by digging garden beds. I’ve shot numerous wild animals for food. I’ve salvaged road kill and butchered chickens. On a daily basis I am in control of choosing what lives and what dies in the garden.

Homesteading in the healthiest lifestyle for me, and it means I am constantly reminded of death.

For me a healthy lifestyle is one which I can honor life to the fullest and this means being connected to sourcing my base needs. Water from a well or roof catchment. Food from the garden, forest and steams. Electricity from the sun. Heat from our woodland. Meeting these needs requires an intimacy with life cycles as well as death. All life relies on death and sustaining ours means we are simply more closely linked to this web.

While I do immensely enjoy learning about forest gardening, nutrition, herbalism, natural building and other health related topics, I do so mostly for the joy of it. I’m not thinking about pushing death away so much as welcoming vibrant life force in. Although there are some elements of the sustainable lifestyle that could perhaps postpone or avoid the death of our species and so many others. We won’t go down that rabbit hole though.

I’m not only conscious of what goes into and onto my body because I have a later death date in mind. I do so because it feels good. I choose a healthy life because I can enjoy so much more of what life has in store if I’m healthy.  I live this way because something deep and profound stirs me to do so.

I want to live well in the present while caring for a future self.

I suppose there is an element of what we’re planting on the homestead that is about extending life. We have selected nutrient dense and antioxidant rich crops to grow that we hope to enjoy and share to a ripe old age. We all know berries rate high on the list of antioxidant foods, but that’s not the only reason we’re growing so many of them. They happen to be delightful to grow and eat. What we’re really after it living a healthy life to enjoy it as much as possible, and as a bonus are accessing some of the nutriceutical properties of many of the plants we tend.

I define a healthy lifestyle as one that balances the love of life with the fear of death

I’m talking about a healthy fear of death, not simply shying away from looking at it. The kind of fear where you can meet death and not close your eyes. Greet death instead of fleeing. The level of fear that commands respect. I’m not interested in overly risky behaviors, because they may result in death. The other side of it is inviting it in too soon. Somewhere between these two extremes I find my place.

I’m still figuring out so many of the details for how to live the healthiest and happiest life. I've spend a lot of time considering what are the "healthiest" options, but I know simple let my body guide me and give my mind a little rest. Much remains to be explored and hopefully I’ll have many more years to explore the nature of healthy lifestyles and continue to experiment.I was moved by this week’s @naturalmedicine question of the week.

This is my response. Check out the post below and scope some of the other insightful answers.

Check it out here

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Lately I’m more in touch with death than at any other time of my life and I feel all the more alive for it.
I love the connection between life and death that you make for us, that they are so intertwined as to be nearly one and the same.
I've often said one thing I love about gardening is that I decide what lives and dies in my garden. Well, the deer do more deciding on that note than I do. Mostly I do my utmost to give everything what it needs to survive, even what most consider to be weeds get to find a place, as you find yours.
Thank you for your essay.


hey @mountainjewel, I tried to go to the challenge post to leave a comment on your entry there, and could not find it. Just letting you know.


Thanks for the input. I’ll take care of it. :)

Living so close to the natural environment helps us understand death rather than separate us from it, without doubt! All those endless deaths and births and rebirths. What a perfectly beautiful response.

Love that picture of Ini and the one with the skull!!


yes yes yes.. thanks <3

Great post. Upvoted and resteemed. Respect.


thanks. appreciate it :)

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This brings to mind a David Attenborough documentary we were watching not long back. The rainforests are teeming with life, yet they are also teeming with death as nature maintains balance. For every insect, there is a parasitic fungus endemic to them. We can't have life without death. We can't even live without consuming other life and one day we will go back to the earth to give life and nutrition to other things.

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so well said.

We can't even live without consuming other life

this is one of the biggest things that stands out to me as i take part more and more with the cycles that sustain us. xo

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Thanks for sharing your perspective from living a Earth based lifestyle!
I admire the path you have chosen and can see that it is that inviting in of a vibrant life force that seems to be your main motivator. That is what I choose too - to have a vibrant, rich, full life, however long it may be!
May we all live vibrant, happy lives, where peace and harmony prevail!

A healthy acceptance of death is, indeed, a gateway to more LIFE in all of its forms. There actually is no contrast - just different stages as the wheel turns, as we see and learn so much here in Asia. Nice contribution.

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