Living in Connection with Death


CDo 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.

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 gardens.  

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.

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