Various Views of Life and Death

Late in the evening on the 10th anniversary of 9/11 I watched Lawrence Wright, the Pulitzer Prize winning author, in his one-man show, “My Trip to Al-Qaeda.”  Earlier that evening, my InterPlay troupe and I had participated in a most inspiring 9/11 memorial with six different religious traditions represented.  I questioned myself as to why I was staying up to watch this show when my husband had already gone on to bed.  Then, somewhere in the middle of the show, Mr. Wright, who is quite an expert on the cultures of the Middle East, said something that seemed to make my late night effort particularly worthwhile.

In looking at the practice of Islamic suicide bombers and comparing them to the early Christian martyrs who reportedly died gladly for their faith,  Wright made the point that people in the western world are enamored with life, while  people in the Middle East who are attracted to Al-Qaeda, are enamored with death.  Then, in keeping with that theme, the next morning a woman in my women’s group describes herself as becoming encouraged by any signs of new life, a watermelon seed sprouting, a spider weaving a web.  But she admitted that what she has trouble with is death.

I thought of my favorite Jules Peiffer cartoon that depicts a skinny dancer, dressed in black leotards and bare feet, jumping up and down like an excited puppy above the caption, “Life is Worth Living.”  The next frame shows her nearly collapsed to the floor, in a downtrodden shape above the caption, “Life is Not Worth Living.” In the next frame she is elated and then in the next, depleted. The final frame contains the caption – “I dance to perfect both answers.”

My yet to be published manuscript, Dancing on Behalf of Life and Death takes the view that we must learn to appreciate both life and death, finding “a time for everything” under the sun.

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