Death is always a sad event in the human experience. The pain triggered by the death of a loved one comes from the harsh realization of permanent physical separation. We grieve over the fact that we no longer will see the person in the flesh again, hear their laughter, or feel their warm embrace.
It is ironic, however, that death sometimes gives birth to new life in a most dramatic fashion. It happens especially when death comes in sudden and tragic circumstances, and involves a promising person in the prime of youth who also happens to have great influence on others.
We are not speaking of physical life, as most people know and understand it, but rather about the unleashing of a vibrant spiritual energy. In the sense, this occurrence can be considered a kind of resurrection.
This contagious new energy usually propels persons who were positively impacted by the deceased to commit to giving greater meaning and expression to what the deceased stood for in life. By so doing, they contribute in some measure to changing the world for the better.
It seems as if we are witnessing such an occurrence following the tragic death of Damien Dappa Taylor. The aspiring young lawyer, disc jockey, and musician died on December 29 after his motorcycle was involved in a fatal collision along the ABC Highway.
Prior to his death, Taylor, 35, was probably not so well known beyond his immediate social circle. However, the overwhelmingly positive tributes, outpouring of love, respect, admiration and joyful celebration of his life by his youthful peers, amid great sadness over the last two weeks, was so profound, it has left an indelible mark on the national psyche.
It was unprecedented for a young person, at least in living memory. One post on Taylor’s Facebook page, two days after his death, powerfully summed up the impact. “Damien Taylor has redefined the meaning of humanity through his transition,” it read.
“The outpouring of love, promises of friendship, cherishing of memories among his direct oikos speak volumes. Let us all accede to the promises we have made and continue to keep each other close and dear.”
At a time when the image of our young men appears to be generally negative because of an association with violence, drug abuse and trafficking, academic underperformance and a general retreat from fulfilling the traditional male role in mainstream society, the overwhelming positive portrayal of Taylor has rekindled hope that all is not really lost where our young men are concerned.
The example of his life demonstrates there are indeed progressive young males out there doing positive things and making a difference. The challenge which faces us a society is to commit to finding, nurturing and celebrating them in life rather than in death. Perhaps, this is the greatest tribute we can pay to Taylor’s memory.
At a moving funeral service yesterday, characterized by an outpouring of joy and tears, mourners heard that Taylor loved life and lived it to the full. He was described as very respectful, confident, humble; one who cared about and found time for people, and was blessed with the ability to inspire and influence others in a positive way.
Perhaps Taylor never saw himself as such but what is coming through is that his contemporaries clearly saw him as a role model. His grieving relatives can certainly be comforted in the knowledge that he was much loved and respected. Not a negative comment was uttered these past two weeks.
At the end of the day, it is not how long one has lived that matters but more the extent to which the person was able during his or her lifetime to make a positive difference. Indeed, many great men and women of history who are positively remembered to this day, died in the prime of their youth.
“As I said goodbye today to Damien, I was reminded that I need to have more Damiens in my life. People who see kindness as a way of life. People who try to bring out the best in me and in others. People who are selfless not selfish. People who have a passion for life and not a passion for things,” said a friend yesterday on Facebook.
May Taylor’s example serve as a lasting inspiration for our youth! May his example also convince adults to be not so harshly judgemental of young people but to commit more to encouraging and nurturing them, rather than criticizing and condemning them! May his soul rest in peace!