I’m just about to embark upon the writing of what may well be the final essay of my degree (that is, apart from those written in exams and my dissertation).

It’s a jolly subject – death in China.

With an ever-increasing amount of death around me as friends age and cancer springs up all over the place, I thought it might be wise to spend some time contemplating death, and what it means to me, thus enabling me to cope better when people close to me do die (as they all will).

So, today, whilst applying an undercoat of emulsion to some raw plaster walls, I began to listen to a 9 hour audiobook all about death and what happens next. It was written by our friend Deepak Chopra, who some people may be familiar with either through his books, or articles in such publications as Resurgence (as recently promoted by Annie Lennox to Gordon Brown on BBC TV!), possibly the best toilet magazine in the whole world.

I like Deepak Chopra. I like the way he integrates medical science and quantum physics into his analysis of the spiritual realm. I like the way he challenges my thinking, and reminds me of the many amazing things that occur around me all the time.

One such thing is birth. One would have thought that I might be a little tired of babies – despite not having one myself I’ve met so many newborns recently that I’m beginning to feel that the average age of people on the planet is about 5 months. But yeah, all these babies led me to think about childbirth, and what an incredible thing it is. I mean, one moment, there’s this baby inside a nice cosy womb, wholly dependent upon its mother for life, and then a few seconds later, a living body full of organs that dramatically and instantaneously adapt to life out here. Isn’t that incredible? And that’s after all the amazing embryo stuff too. Just think, that embryo, even when its only the size of a pinhead, has all the information, all the programing to create a whole human being! What an amazing clock it must contain: “OK, we need to grow that nose a bit now! Right, let’s have a chest, oh, and Pancreas, your turn to grow!” How can such a small thing contain such a complex set of instructions?

Then there’s the most amazing thing of all – spirirt. Where does that come from? If human’s were just beating hearts and immune systems we wouldn’t be all that much to shout about – but consciousness – now there’s something to get excited about! Does that grow with the body? Or is it ‘whole’ at conception?

Amazing stuff.

Deepak also proposes that death, in its own way, is also a miracle. Not so dramatic, but amazing none the less. Whether or not I agree with what he says, I am finding that by learning about different approaches to death, it does make it that much more manageable, even, something to celebrate.

Anyway, back to death in China.