To live life in sight of death

A few months ago, a line struck me from the 1970s Japanese samurai series Lone Wolf and Cub. In Baby Cart to Hades, the series’ main character Ogami Itto was asked by Kanbe Magomura on what is the way of a true warrior. Magomura had been a troubled samurai since his concept of Bushido was still based on the idea that a warrior’s life finds meaning in death. Ogami answered that the way of a warrior to live life within sight of death.

While Ogami’s line maybe held by many only in the context of the movie and that period in Japanese history, it is actually a thought which can be held important even by those among us who are neither Samurai nor Japanese.

Covering crime stories back then, I have seen violent crimes victims of differing ages, gender, religion and financial background. There was a young man who died after he was hacked to pieces by a gang just because they didn’t like what he looked like. Another one was gunned down after poorly singing My Way in a karaoke bar. And there were several who were stabbed to death just because they passed through the wrong alleyway at the wrong time.

Among the many thoughts which usually came to my mind back then was what these victims were doing just minutes before, days before, or weeks before they died. Were they happy with their lives? Were they content with what they had? Were they able to say the things they wanted to say to their loved ones before they forever would rest and hold their peace?

Of course, violent crimes are abrupt and unpredictable, and specially death which usually results from them. But what if these victims had not been able to live the life they would have wanted nor able to express the thoughts and emotions whcih had been bothering them prior to their untimely deaths? Will they still find peace? Death is usually quick and violent. One minute you’re alive, the next, you’re gone.

Over the past few weeks, I have also lost some friends and acquiantances to various reasons and circumstances which caused their untimely deaths. The usual reaction would be to comment on how a potential has been lost without it bearing fruition or what dreams that person had which would have been realized had the person lived longer.

Considering how death cheats us all, I think it would help if once in a while, we look into our own lives and try to see if we have have been able to make the most of our lives for those we love. We should view our daily lives, not only in the context of the larger and longer life we are supposed to have but more importantly, by the understanding that every minute we have might be our last. Our lives, should not be only be mere pursuits of the things which make us and those we love happy, but more importantly, it should speak for itself. Only in living such a life will we be ready for any eventuality should it occur. And when it does, we are ready to face death at the hands of another human being our out of circumstances beyond our control. As Ogami put it more succinctly, we should learn to live life in sight of death.

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