Do not go gentle into that good night,
Old age should burn and rave at close of day,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light. (Dylan Thomas)
A few days ago, a man I knew casually at my university was shot and killed by a jealous ex-husband who also murdered the woman he was with before hanging himself. My friend's name was Ittipol Buachart but I knew him as Paul, a debonair and well-traveled man who spoke impeccable English. He was manager of customer relations for the Language Institute at my school and he led me to believe he was politically well-connected when he offered his help if I had any problems with my visa or work permit. He also offered me a job after my short stint with the Language Institute ended for lack of paying students. MCU's main campus is in Wangnoi, an industrial area near Ayutthaya, and the Language Institute was developing English classes for factory workers. Because classes were scheduled in the late afternoon and commuting from Bangkok would be difficult, I declined. Twice, Paul gave me rides in his car which he parked on campus, once to the Labour Ministry and once to a local hotel after a conference at school. Even though I didn't know him well, his violent death came as a shock. Raw news footage circulating on Facebook graphically showed all three bodies in a cluttered house in Lopburi. No one would have figured that kind of ending for Paul.
I'm not sure why Dylan Thomas gives me comfort and the courage to look mortality in the face. That old reprobate certainly hastened his own demise at the age of 39. After a month of sickness and excess in 1953, he died at a New York hospital of acute alcohol poisoning and pneumonia. Did he "burn and rave at close of day" and "rage against the dying of the light," even though he was far from old? Would he reaffirm that "death shall have no dominion" as he headed towards the grave?
Ring the bells that still can ringThen should we "rage against the dying of the light" when our time comes to go? If by "rage" you can also mean passionately embracing life rather than its absence, then I suppose so. In the book of Deuteronomy in the Bible, God says:
Forget your perfect offering
There is a crack in everything
That's how the light gets in.
--Leonard Cohen, "Anthem"
I call heaven and earth to witness against you today, that I have set before you life and death, the blessing and the curse. So choose life in order that you may live, you and your descendants.I hope to choose life always, even at the moment of leaving it.