I was thinking today about death and how it's perceived in society as something horrible, to be avoided at all costs. I was considering starting a personal photojournalism project regarding death, and was considering how others might perceive that as morbid or even offensive.
Though I have as much trepidation about my own death as anyone else (mostly thinking about the lost opportunities if I should die "early"), I don't seem to buy into the stigma associated with discussing and confronting death. It struck me, as I was thinking today, that death is a useful example of "acceptance without acceptance". That is, death is inevitable, absolutely inevitable. And it is the height of delusion to fight against death, to rage against it and the consideration of it, to attempt to ignore it or pretend it doesn't exist. If there is anything in our lives we MUST, at one time or another, accept, it is our own eventual death. Yet, accepting the fact of our own mortality does not naturally lead to suicide (though some, unfortunately, may choose this path). In much the same way (though at a different level of "importance"), accepting that my kids' bedrooms are filthy does not lead to my lack of effort to clean them (or to get my kids to clean them themselves).
For me, I find the contemplation of death to be a fantastic practice when I get too caught up in the concept of our world. The fact of death is undeniable and obvious to me, yet the bias in our culture against death is equally obvious. Contemplation of this opposition helps me find balance between the dark and the light (for you book club folks).