Many, many, many moons ago I spotted a black crow as I got on the ramp to merge on the freeway. This harrowing sighting was amplified because there was something sinister about this bird–the way it cast a rather despondent look my way, as though it had been wronged and was looking to avenge a grave misdeed. A black crow, as I believed then, was bad omen and the only piece of information that would dismiss the thought that something terrible was about to happen was a conclusive study that other motorists too had been subjected to the piercing stare of the black crow. Oh, and didn’t I see a black cat stealthily catwalk past me the previous day when I went on my evening walk? I thought to myself. Maybe the black crow and the black cat were signs…signs of my impending death. But then, how was I going to die? Would it be a twenty-car pile up on this freeway? The fear of death gradually took up residence in my mind. I thought, “This couldn’t possibly be a coincidence. The cat…it did halt at some point, taking me in like I was an apparition with an illegal access to earthly realms and it, the living creature with the rightful ownership and sanction to roam this capacious earth.” 

I chuckle whenever I recall this incident. Okay, I may have been a tad superstitious back in the day. But there is such a thing as fear. C’mon, you couldn’t possibly trust any animal whose collective term evokes certain unease. A glaring of cats. A murder of crows. Need I say more?

Thanatophobia

An abnormal fear of death. Fear–A tool our bête noire, the devil uses to make us come undone. Why are we so afraid? Of the unknown? Of wimpy creatures? The most common, pervasive fear a lot of people have is the fear of death. For some, the mere mention of death dredges up thoughts they would rather wrestle and keep subdued. Why are we afraid to die? Death is only a punctuation in our life’s story. Life continues after death. On and on it goes…for eternity. Death is enshrouded in deep mystery but we do know that life after death is one in which we earthly beings cannot be fully submerged (read accounts of folks who had near-death experiences-NDE). Even with the plethora of stories on NDE, you can never have superior knowledge of death, the process and all. It’s like having sex, you gotta do it to really understand what the big deal is.

Death is like your car–taking you to your destination: eternity

Tell you what; the next time the fear of death (or any one of fear’s relatives) creeps up on you, do not let it ruin your pleasure. Do not permit the inscrutability of death to cripple your zeal for life. Surely, death will come. But before then, live a life filled with love, joy, warmth, laughter and peace. Whether death strikes suddenly like a rude guest barging into his host’s bedroom demanding to be fed, or it is gracious enough to knock and announce its estimated time of arrival, always remember, death is only the beginning of the adventure, a transient encounter in the large scheme of things. In dying, you become who you were really meant to be. And as for the phobias and the bad omens, tell your paranoid mind to be still.

Black cats in Japan and Mexico

I imagine two superstitious men from Japan and Mexico, conversing, casually walking down the street and stumbling on a black cat. The Japanese believes the black cat is a sign of good luck and so he is overcome with excitement at his impending good fortune. The Mexican on the other hand is drenched in cold sweat at the sight of the same cat–it means something bad is about to happen. If only they’d realize a black cat is just a black cat….)

I have learned to quiet my mind even in tempestuous times but there is one thing I am still afraid of, one thing that causes the hair on the back of my neck stand, one thing that has the power to thrust me into utter trepidation: the knowledge that my cousin is making that spicy goat curry. Again.

May your soul be still and rest in God’s loving arms