Not all thinking about death is morbid

A meditation on “dark” subjects

Photo: Neil Thomas

I often think about what others consider dark topics.

Pain. Suffering. Death. Evil.

And I’m not just interested in them for their own sake — which is why I don’t consider my interest morbid (as some have described it), but rather for the questions that they raise.

I’ve always been one to ask questions and never one for easy answers. (And since you’re reading this, I imagine that about describes you too.)

I suppose it’s why I enjoy stories that explore these subjects, like fantasies and psychological thrillers and Stephen King’s novels. (Not all horror, mind you. I don’t fancy horror in itself — it’s the skilled exploration of good versus evil that I find gripping.)

I’m not sure why this is, other than maybe I’m just wired that way. It would be easy to say it comes from being a doctor and how that exposes you to humanity at its most raw and vulnerable, but that wouldn’t be exactly true because I’ve been interested in these questions long before that.

But being a doctor has most certainly helped it along.

Because, despite my penchant for questions, like anyone else, sometimes you want to just put them all away. Especially the questions you’ve not been able to answer, or the ones where not even the correct answer is the right one.

Being a doctor puts you right in the firing line of those questions. You can still shy away if you want, but it’s harder to. And should you shy away just the same, it’s harder to miss how, in cutting yourself off from pain, you’re really cutting yourself off from being human.

So no, it’s not that I take some perverse delight in the idea of pain. I don’t wish it on myself — which would be morbid — and I definitely don’t desire it for anyone — which would be sadistic. But I’m not about to ignore it either: that would be escapist.

But bad things happen. And people suffer. And the least any of us can do is engage the reality of it, right?

Being morbid, sadist or escapist aren’t the only options, after all.

There’s also being human.

Published by Doc Ayomide

I’m a medical doctor with specialty training in psychiatry, and I love thinking and writing about what it means to be human.

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