Did you understand the meaning of this quote when you first read it in the title?
To be honest, I didn’t.
In fact, when I first read this famous quote by Benjamin Franklin (an American scientist, inventor, politician and the man whose face is printed on the US dollar), I thought I read it wrong.
So, as a reflex, my eyes quickly glanced over the sentence again to understand what exactly did it mean:
“Many people die at twenty five and aren’t buried until they are seventy five.”
My immediate response to understanding its meaning was wondering if I died at 25 or if I am dead now. I thought about it as long as my impatient soul would permit and I quickly rang my best friend to ask her opinion on the matter.
After failing to get a convincing answer from them, I turned to a few other friends, but strangely enough, no one seemed to understand this at the first glance.
Why would people die at twenty-five and be buried at seventy-five?
Does it mean that people die at 25, but live on like zombies and then finally die when they’re 75?
Living like a zombie for such a significant period of life does not seem very intuitive. Or anyone’s preferred method to live, for that matter. Plus, you and I both know that Mr Franklin was most assuredly not referring to zombies in this quote.
The more I thought, the clearer it became to me: death is the absence of life. And this ‘life’ could mean different things for different people.
It could be professional success, loving relationships, being able to give back to society or a sense of purpose in life. The society is made up of people that aim for some or all of those things.
We all have some ‘drivers’ that motivate us – and the time when we lose them is when the decay begins.
It’s not just the bodily decay that defines death; it is losing the drive to live.
Of all the reading that I have done over the years, wisdom all around the world prescribes life with a purpose as the best antidote to stagnation.
A life lived savoring every moment- happy or sad.
A life full of meaning and love.
A life full of childlike excitement for life.
Kane Tanaka, the oldest living person on the planet recently celebrated her 117th birthday in January this year (2020). After having a piece of her birthday cake, she is said to have remarked – ‘Tasty! I want some more.’
That is saying ‘Yes’ to life.