An Approach to Death



I’ve had a “morbid curiosity” all my life. This isn’t unusual for boys, and I’m sure it’s not unusual for men. In fact I don’t think that it’s unusual for anybody. But it’s a personal thing, an outgrowth of a solitary mind, and something that doesn’t get discussed much. In conversation, the very word “morbid” is usually used to steer the talk somewhere else.

The best place to indulge this curiosity is outdoors. Indoors, there is little death, namely because there isn’t much living. Outdoors there is both. There are dead things to be found in all different statuses of death: some of them look almost alive, and can be examined with the attention that would be given to the living if they didn’t always run away. Others look the opposite of alive. But even then, there are bones and organs and unbelievable textures that speak to how much is inside of us.

A scientific mind finds a host of questions to accompany ever occurrence of death: what happened? Is this happening elsewhere? What will happen next? But, of course, the visceral impact is always strongest, making it difficult to do anything more than just stare for a while. At that time, the only question is: did this have to happen?

Death is almost entirely excluded from towns, which is interesting, because the extreme vitality of town manifests in varieties of death over the land for many miles in every direction. Some of this death is so deadly that you don’t see it anymore, there is only silence. Some days I feel like exposure to death outdoors is the most important reason to go outdoors– that acknowledging this side of life is a moral issue.

Part of this, again, is the simple fact that death looks so important. The blood, the viscera, the hair. You search for some way to weight the impact accordingly. Then, later, after the science comes back in, you can’t ask why something had to die without wondering why it lives.