Death is a Gift

Within my family, we entertain a certain passion for language in general, and literature in particular, for we believe that language is mankind’s most advanced and sophisticated technology, and words delivered with thoughtful intention serve as kinetic vehicles for delivering the divine power of creation.

Kent Dahlgren
8 min readJan 24, 2021
Tracey Shelton (GlobalPost) captures the moment of death for three men in Aleppo City, Syria (2012)

In other words, expressions of creativity in general serve as vehicles for expressing the divine act of creation, and as such: serves as an expression of praise.

And creative literary expressions (inclusive to verse, call-and-response, and hip hop) carry the potential to lodge themselves within the creative imagination of the readers/listeners/participants, and in this manner achieves a state of metaphysical transcendence.

My eldest son is an author, and we’ve long discussed his entangled relationship with his stories’ characters.

In effect, his characters are his children, so to speak, and their continued evolution is dependent upon his thoughtful engagement, as their divine creator.

And yet, as a good parent he must yield to their needs as he guides their evolution, rather than impose upon them a tyranny of contrived, detached intentions based upon his supposition of what’s best.

The author should additionally be mindful that the story’s characters lodge themselves within the imagination of its readers, so to speak, and that their aggregate creative embroidery contributes to the story’s canon, in what may be described as a crowd-sourced creative evolution.

Finally, it should go without saying that no single character should be allowed to evolve to dominate the story beyond repair, for egoic homogeny eventually drives the story’s ecosystem to extinction, to the detriment of all others.

So it is in the real world, and it’s for this reason that death is actually a gift. It’s not the ending, but a beginning for others.

For as the threshing of a farmer’s fields brings to light unexpected abundance, stimulating a feast for the birds of the field, so too the end of an egoic expression (a life) frees opportunity for others.

We are the kind of people who walk, talking for hours, and for years my son and I discussed the various mythical pantheons, as well as their various heroes and villains while walking endless laps around the neighborhood or the nearby grocery store, when the weather was poor.

In studies of the pantheons, we are taught that the gods of various mythologies boast personalities that are fixed in their temperament, but what if this rigidity is contrivance?

Ezra became fascinated by the idea that the gods and goddesses have evolved their personalities, relative to how well they’ve embraced the catalyzing “rock tumbling” elements of failure, humility, death, and rebirth.

But is it possible to kill a god or a goddess?

Within our canon, the answer is yes, for death is a profound gift which provides the best evidence of our evolving entanglement with the divine.

And are gods and goddesses real?

I suppose they are as real as you wish them to be, right? This is storytelling, right?

And so our continued discussions inevitably circle back to the question of: what if the myths regarding gods and goddesses are merely snapshots, and they have evolved in the millennia since?

Within our family, the margin between agreed reality and imagined fantasy is blurred, and within these margins we embrace the power of creativity, where we step through faith into wisdom, embracing what comes to us in a burst of creativity.

The same sort of thing that people have been doing for millennia, although I imagine they used fewer words to describe their creative process.

Switching gears just a bit, let’s talk about the imaginary, mythical world depicted in the Lord of the Rings.

In his writing, JRR Tolkien aspired to deliver a mythology for England, and he invested massively into bringing his imagination to life.

As a writer I remain astounded by the depth of his commitment to divine creativity, and on that note: let’s talk about how God created the world of the hobbits and all the other nerds.

As an aside, the God of creation is not referred to as “God” in the Lord of the Rings.

Eru Ilúvatar or The One is the single omniscient and omnipotent creator, and I am fond of referring to him as the one shared light.

It’s most appropriate to call him Ilúvatar, but because I’m pathologically irreverent, I’m going to call him God, because like four people can remember all of those Elvish names. Come on!

Basically, Ilúvatar (God) made a song.

Come on, man, bear with me: death is a gift, and “song” is metaphor.

He created lesser gods, and for a while they just hung out and enjoyed the music.

Eventually, Lord of the Rings God encouraged the “small g” gods to play along, and they really enjoyed that.

One might imagine a Lord of the Rings version of Puff the Magic Dragon, where all the gods are hanging out with God and they are having some sort of jam session.

Come on, people. It’s a story.

Within this same creation myth there emerges a sidebar: one of the most gifted gods starts getting full of himself, and his part of the song starts dominating the contributions of the others.

His name is Melkor, and in terms of temperament he’s like that tall and super fit guy that brings an acoustic guitar to your party, and then starts doing yoga while talking about his root chakra.

Melkor is a grandstanding, egotistical buzzkill, is what I’m saying.

Melkor means “He who arises in might,” and later on he came to be known as Morgoth (“Black Foe of the World”).

Morgoth vs Sauron: a juxtaposition comparing relative scales of baddie

This image illustrates a comparison of Morgoth vs Sauron, for those of you who have watched Lord of the Rings.

Ok, so anyway:

Melkor (Morgoth) eventually starts banging and making a massively-disruptive noise, and at first the other gods are kind of bummed.

Some call this an example of evil, but I dislike that word, because it implies subjectivity.

My son and I have discussed this, and have settled upon the words “selfish” and “wasteful” in illustrating examples of what we call “darkness,” and in this particular example, Melkor invests a lot of darkness into the song, and it screws things up.

But here’s where it gets cool: the one original God (the one that had created all the others) is able to perceive the proper role of darkness, so to speak, and in each turn is able to wrap a complementary context around every attempt to disrupt or dominate the song.

As a result, the shared music is enriched and even more beautified, and it’s as if the song’s beauty was not entirely revealed if not for the darkness added by Melkor / Morgoth, and the gods are delighted.

Well, not Melkor / Morgoth; he’s pissed.

Anyhoo: the song is metaphor, and in Lord of the Rings parlance, is referred to as the Music of the Ainur.

The Lord of the Rings God (Ilúvatar) takes the Music of the Ainur and uses the song to create the universe and the world, and the gods are astounded to witness their song transformed into reality.

For as Jean-Michel Basquiat said: Art is how we decorate space, music is how we decorate time.

This brings us to the creation myth of men/women and elves within Tolkien’s aspired mythology for England, and it’s pretty fantastic.

The younger children of Ilúvatar (the one God) are created from the third theme of the music played during the Music of the Ainur, with which the universe was created (discussed above).

Elves are immortal; they don’t get sick, and only die from sadness or if they are slain.

By comparison, men and women are mortal, and are more frail, subject to illness and aging.

However, death is the gift of human men and women, granted to them by the Ilúvatar (God), and here’s where it gets interesting.

Elves and all things are bound to the Music of the Ainur, which means they are bound to fate; human men and women are not, and they can shape their lives according to their own free will, and even go against the Music if that’s their desire.

It’s said that even the Elves envy this gift because only men can truly follow their own path beyond that which is already written.

In effect, this means that human men and women are granted the divine power of creation to evolve and transform the Music of the Ainur, no?

Which means that through our contributions to the Music of the Ainur, we are able to add darkness (like Melkor / Morgoth), and to add light, which deepens the song’s rich quality as it pertains to all other living things.

I think about this a lot as part of my ongoing meditation, which is really just a thought exercise designed to keep me in a state of present mindfulness.

Let’s assume that we share a song that’s played for millennia, but over a relatively brief period of time there’s emerged a small number of dominating contributors that have become disruptive to the Music of the Ainur.

Their darkness (selfishness or wastefulness), using my example above.

Following that metaphor, how did Ilúvatar (the one God) embrace the darkness invested by Melkor in such a way that he was able to enrich the song?

Well, if darkness is a synonym for “selfishness” or “wastefulness,” what might be the opposite?

I’d say that “selflessness” would be synonymous with “light,” right?

And so, how best to embrace the vast darkness that’s in our current song?

Endeavor to bring benefit to the greatest number of things, with outcomes in alignment to the will of the Ilúvatar (the one God), right?


Why is death a gift?



Kent Dahlgren

Product management fix-it guy. World-famous people skills. Extremely small hands. (edit) marketing lady says I’m also supposed to say “CEO of software company”