Thursday, June 4, 2020

"It was only life that pained." - Jack London

This excerpt really grabbed my attention. 

We are all on death's door given the right perspective. Life does hurt, yes. That's part of the hand we're dealt. Whether it's acute pain such as a disease, physical violence, or some other unfortunate malady; or if it's the dull, weary pain of overwork and other social stressors, the statement still applies.

Therefore, why not think of death more positively? The absence of pain. Is that not pleasure?

Too often we project, often subconsciously (even more sinister), that the pain of life will endure till infinity. London points out that this is inherently false. He implies that the trick to life is being ever aware that it ends, and in that way of thinking, one can truly live. One can truly love life.

Later in the story, he describes the ragged and weak protagonist, basically crawling through the Alaskan wild, starving with a mind full of near-death hallucinations, as a man whose life is outside of his body, clinging to the man by nothing more than a thread. The man had left hunger behind. He had dropped his gold to save weight, dropped his gun, too. All that remained were a tattered blanket and his precious matches -- purveyors of warmth and light, bringers and keepers of life.

Life itself is then what is important, not the material pleasures that we are able to find along the way (if we are so fortunate). So in the end, yes, death is the absence of pain, and it very well may be synonymous with pleasure, but life will soldier on, and that is a fact, a fact so concrete that we owe it to ourselves to suck the marrow out of life, just like London's protagonist sucked the marrow out of caribou bones (another item that he chose to carry over gold). We owe it to ourselves to live and love life!

Read London's books here.

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