Put on Your Pajamas
Death is, so far, the subject of nineteen A Year of War and Peace meditations. Six percent of total meditations seems woefully inadequate a portion of consideration to offer a topic that is an event one hundred percent of us will encounter. For as Ovid, notable dead man himself, once wrote, “Tendimus huc omnes, metam properamus ad unam, Omnia sub leges Mors vocat atra suas.” Happy, then, that Kutuzov’s final act is to offer readers a virtuous example of how to proceed with this universal process. The passage describing Kutuzov’s death is worth reading one more time in its entirety:
Kutuzov did not understand what Europe, the balance of power, or Napoleon, meant. He could not understand it. For the representative of the Russian people, after the enemy had been destroyed and Russia had been liberated and raised to the summit of her glory, there was nothing left to do as a Russian. Nothing remained for the representative of the national war but death. And so he died.
With what ease he approaches his end! It’s like he’s putting on pajamas. Most of us approach death with at least a little trepidation, a little bit of fear and anxiety. For many others this is the central worrisome preoccupation of life. It doesn’t have to be. We could be like Kutuzov. The question is how?
If considered proverbially we could say that familiarity breeds contempt. Contempt not in the sense of hatred but, rather, total indifference. This seems to be the way Kutuzov estimated death. We should too.
Always think on death in order that you may never fear it.
Seneca, Epistle XXX