A Business of Misery Tip #9 | Remember the Balance of Life and Death

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Religion and Spirituality  |  House: Booksie Classic

A grim reaper talks of the importance in keeping the balance of life and death in check and what it means to be a grim reaper serving the higher powers of the universe.

This story is part of a new compilation I like to call ‘Stories that go well with lofi hip-hop,’ so if you’re interested, here is the stream I listened to while writing this. (youtube) /watch?v=5qap5aO4i9A

Every grim reaper has different feelings—if you can call them that—about what it is we do. Most of us are neutral to the act of taking souls from their mortal realm and delivering them unto a blissfully ignorant afterlife; one where they may forever live out their perfect fantasies, but one where they will never truly have anything at all for eternity. Some acknowledge that what we do may be considered a miserable profession by those that do feel anything.

Others enjoy—if pleasure is possible for grim reapers to experience—the duty they’ve been given by the higher order of the universe. You might say they are interested in the behavior of humans upon death. I, for one, should I dare say that I “feel” anything toward what I and my fellow immortals do, would say that I feel fulfillment with every performance I execute. A grim reaper’s “job,” I would argue, is one of the most influential laws of the greater universe. As I have come to understand, filling such a significant role is not something that some collection of energy is compiled together to do by random chance.

There is something above it all that is pulling the theoretical strings of reality as even we reapers understand it. We are not the greatest power in the universe, and just like how humans cannot perceive or comprehend things beyond their own dimension, reapers, too, owe their existence and purpose to something above our ability to fathom. My point is that I do not let the ideas or perceptions of others dictate how I would feel about my existence were I given the emotional capabilities of a mortal.

No. I would be proud. “Why?” you may wonder. Because my responsibility is to keep the balance of life and death in check, and in doing so I get to experience the lives and deaths of countless humans. Humans are, indeed, fascinating and I wouldn’t want to be the reaper for any other species in the universe. Humans pose such a unique challenge that I imagine other beings just don’t give rise to. The whole point of a grim reaper’s existence is to pass the restless soul of a dying being into the afterlife, but that cannot be done until the soul is at peace.

Humans are so incredibly complex that bringing peace to one isn’t as simple as one can assume bringing peace to a dog or an insect would be, assuming such beings even have souls in need of guidance. It is the responsibility of a grim reaper to study what makes a human uniquely them and to plot the correct course of action to bring their soul to rest. Every excursion to the human realm brings something new and I can never tell what I will have to do, what I will have to say, who I will have to appear as in order to help someone let go of their ties to life.

If grim reapers required anything to keep themselves energized, then I would say it’s a very taxing job. Beings with biological needs and with emotions are simply not suited for this sort of duty. Reapers may not allow anything to sway them in a direction other than straight ahead toward the afterlife. Sometimes it’s as easy as letting the soul pass. Plenty of humans are quite content with the circumstances of their life when they die and a grim reaper needs to do little for them. Other times, a soul is not ready to pass and has to be pushed in the right way.

It's a very fine line that grim reapers walk having to stay emotionally uninvested. Again, most reapers don’t feel much of anything at all, so it’s not difficult to stay detached from the mortality of everything, but one also can’t let the soul itself become invested in the interaction with the reaper. When a human learns that they are dying or have already passed, then sees the face of something recognizably earthly—especially in the case of a reaper taking on the appearance of someone familiar to the dying—they will want to cling to that someone or something for as long as possible.

They will feel that by hanging onto whatever it is the reaper is offering that they can extend their existence for just a little longer. Of course, it matters not what the human thinks. We reapers know that in the end they will be brought to a place of eternal slumber. No time exists where a reaper appears, so the idea of extending a human’s life is nonsense anyway. Every human is different and they all react to the news of their own death in different ways. Some are prepared, others regretful, others still afraid, or even neutral.

Ideally, a reaper does not make its appearance until the person has already died. In a perfect scenario, the dying person is old, has lived a fulfilling and honest life, and is surrounded by loved ones on their death bed. That makes the reaper’s job very easy. We essentially just act as escorts in those cases. Of course, those are rather few and far between. Maybe the dying person has lived a fulfilling life but dies in a car crash or somewhere random where they don’t get to be surrounded by friends and family.

Maybe the death was even painful or ugly, maybe happened somewhere unfamiliar to the individual. There are so many possible combinations of circumstances for a human to die in that a perfectly good one is improbable. Maybe the death is quick, or maybe it’s slow. Maybe the human knows it’s coming or maybe they don’t. Chances are, they don’t see it coming until their very final moments. Personally, the unpredictability of death is what makes my existence as a grim reaper so fascinating to me.

Literally everything about each job can be completely different every time. If a grim reaper cannot take pride and joy in their ability to work under any condition and fulfill their duty of bringing peace to a soul and guiding them to the afterlife, then I don’t know what one could take pride in. And here I go spouting my thoughts on feeling good about our existence when I’ve been preaching the feeling of nothing for my whole existence. It is different, though. One can feel things that have no effect on how they work. I do not feel anything for humans, only for myself and for my fellow immortals.

I’m not even saying that I love or hate anything, that I get upset at reapers who don’t think the same as I do, or that I get sad when a human’s story is particularly tragic. No, I do not get emotional, but I can’t help to say that being a grim reaper brings me satisfaction. It is a purposeful existence. One does not need to search the universe for a reason why or worry about when their time may come. Grim reapers are forever. They do not die; they simply keep going. The monotony is nothing to us.

We exist outside of time. We have no need—no desire—for material attachments and physical attraction. Never once have I met a grim reaper set on making something more of themselves. We each understand our place in the universe and are content there. Our “happiness” comes from the knowledge that we are keeping the universe in check. We can share stories about our experiences with each other if we so choose and we can use each other’s experiences to help in our own day-to-days, so to speak. “But what if that isn’t enough for one reaper?” you may ask.

First, I say that is quite bold to imagine such a thing. I do not know what greater powers watch grim reapers from their higher plane and do not know what they desire for us. Their intentions are a mystery to us all and I admit that it brings me some form of dread to think of how they may feel about a grim reaper acquiring desire. A grim reaper who becomes emotional and begins to think too much about the why of their existence certainly risks doing a poor job in guiding souls to the afterlife. To be honest I don’t know what that would look like.

It's all speculation for me. Maybe they would begin guiding unhappy souls to the afterlife. I can see how that could upset the balance of eternity and perhaps tamper with the stillness of the other souls resting in Purgatory. Or maybe they would become trapped in the human realm endlessly trying to calm a soul they allowed to get attached to them too tightly. If a souls are not guided, where do they go? What do they do and who is responsible for their behavior? I wish I had the answers to these questions for a more engaging discussion, but I do not.

I don’t like talking about it much anyway. As I said, I feel as though we are always watched and I do not want to upset our overseers. I will offer this, however. What I believe it means to be a grim reaper is to serve the universe through the duty we’ve been given. I don’t know what would happen if restless souls were left unguided and I don’t want to know; I don’t want to think about it. There is some innate feeling I have within me—that I assume all reapers have within them—that leaving restless souls to wander and to wonder would leave life at risk of being overrun.

I apologize for there is not a good way for me to explain this feeling and elaborate on what life would be overrun by. But whatever it might be, I do not intend to let it happen. Besides, as I stated earlier, I quite enjoy—again, if I may call it joy—my duty as a grim reaper to guide souls to Purgatory. I wouldn’t want to do anything else with my existence even if given the choice and I know that my fellow immortals feel the same. So, let’s end it there, shall we? We’ve gotten off track of our original discussion on life and death.

There is a balance, you see. It is a grim reaper’s duty to keep that balance. To keep that balance, we must perform our secondary duty of bringing peace to restless souls and taking them to the afterlife, whatever form it may take. If you cannot do that without bias and without being distracted by the possibilities of ifs and whens, then you are not suited to be a grim reaper. Do you understand? Good. Now come with me. There is much to be done and only endless time to do it.

Submitted: November 08, 2022

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