When the end is not near

Last May 4th I had the opportunity to present my novels at the Guadalajara Book Fair. During the talk I touched on different topics ranging from fabulism as a cathartic experience, the relevance of magical realism as a subgenre in Latin American literature, to my family's real-life experiences that inspired the ideas for my books. I have covered these stories in previous blog posts, which can be found here.

It was very interesting for me to see how the audience listened attentively to my entire presentation, especially attracted by the themes of Death, the afterlife and near-death experiences.

At the end of my presentation we opened the microphone to receive questions from the audience and I was surprised by the audience's enthusiasm for the topic of Death. Some told me their experiences or asked me questions about my beliefs after studying the topic for so long. But of all the participants there was one whose question certainly took me by surprise and I couldn't get it out of my mind until several days later.

When he approached the microphone located in the center aisle, the man did not strike me as the fantasy-reading type. He was older and was wearing ordinary clothes and a cap, which he took off before asking his question. “With the experiences you have shared and your study of Death, I would like to ask you… I am 67 years old and I want to die, but Death refuses to take me, do you know why?”

I was shocked.

Before my presentation, I had mentally prepared myself to answer many questions, but no training could have prepared me to answer them. Not even days later, or even now as I write this, can I craft a response that can appease that man's heart.

Many things crossed my mind. Considering the origin of man, Mexicans are highly Catholic, especially the people of their time, and Christianity in all its variants attributes the acts of giving life and taking it only to God, hence suicide is considered a sin that It prevents us from entering heaven. But what really baffled me was considering that this man had taken his doubts to the priests and religion could not offer a satisfactory answer, so he had to stand on the crowded platform to seek the long-awaited answers... from a writer.

I couldn't tell if the man had attempted suicide or had consumed alcohol or other substances just to hasten his end, considering he seemed healthy for his age. But what he could be sure of was that his eyes reflected the unbearable agony of living a meaningless life.

And today, this has become a more frequent problem: finding a reason to exist.

During my presentation I mentioned that for me the enigma of Death is truly the enigma of life. To understand why we came to this life is to understand why we are destined to leave this existence. Both are intertwined. Life and death. The ephemeral versus the eternal. One means the other.

But for most of us, finding purpose is the most daunting task of our lives.

But because?

I see many people complaining that the current education system “does not prepare students for life's real challenges,” but in the extensive list of suggested topics, “finding a purpose in life” never appears.

It is easier for us to simply become more occupied with all the complexities of ordinary life and evade our human responsibility in our search for meaning. And it is until we approach the twilight of our existence, when our lives slow down, when the children have left the nest and the gears of work have taken the life out of us and we cannot shoulder any more obligations, that we will face the question that we had evaded all along. our life… why am I here?

In that moment of fragility, when the least things can keep us anchored to this existence, when the weight of a life on our shoulders bends our knees, we, like that man, will wonder why Death takes so long to end our suffering. .

But no matter who you ask, the riddle of death can only be solved... being born

M. Ch. Landa

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