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2017-09-08 17:13
By Nam Sang-so



A baby comfortably sitting in a new stroller being pushed by her young mother in a subway car caught my eye. My mouth broke into a big smile, and I nodded in response to the baby’s greeting of a stranger. Shy, she turned her face away from me, but curiosity overcame her and she quickly looked up, probably wondering about this ugly, bald man in contrast to her mother, who has a full head of hair.

I nodded again and mumbled, “Congratulations! Welcome to the new world.” The mother, who was holding the handle of the stroller, heard me, and looked down at her baby and then to my grandfatherly self and smiled. Her face was glowing with happiness and pride that she had produced such a lovely baby of her own blood, who is currently safely wrapped in a blanket in the stroller that she pushes around to introduce her baby to the new, wonderful world. 

I realize again that the time has come for me to disappear from the earth so that this new born baby would have the space, air and sunlight he or she need. It’s a good thing that life ends. The old must vanish so that new life is generated and the metabolism would work.

If evolution refers to change in the heritable characteristics of biological populations over successive generations, then life develops with the birth of the new generation and the extinction of the old generation. This nativity and extinction are inseparable. Then, a human’s death is an absolute inevitable.

Death provides another advantage to human life. As Mahatma Gandhi said, “Live as if you were to die tomorrow. Learn as if you were to live forever.” If you realize that you would die sooner or later, you would live every day with your utmost. So many youngsters waste their time doing practically nothing as if they have an unlimited amount of time to enjoy their young lives.

The inevitability of death gives people a sensation of fear while at the same time prompts them to think about the meaning of life. Death encourages us to live now earnestly. Realizing that death is waiting for everyone, we make an effort to love others and the beautiful things in this world. On the other hand, if we ignore the inevitability of death, we cut corners, spend our days aimlessly and make no efforts to live our best lives. The human is a funny creature; however, since we know that we won’t live forever, there should be an alternative with which we could abandon in living and do nothing. I’m often tempted to abandon unnecessary things in the struggle to live for a few more years, I could just do nothing but wait for the time to disappear.

Such a thought should be a far more rational way to spend the rest of the time. But I can’t surrender to despair; instead, I should attempt to live as if I would live forever. I know it may seem unreasonable and irrational to keep pursuing beautiful things in this world.

Now, squatting to the level of the innocent baby in the stroller in the subway car, I mumble, “Every good wish to you, dear.” 



The writer is an 84-year-old Korean War veteran. His email address is sangsonam@gmail.com.

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