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About Sails

As I watched you come alive, part of me died.”
Holding On by The Satellite Station

Where do we go when we die?

I cannot count how many times I have tried to find an answer to that question. It has been bugging me for as long as I can remember, for the idea that something such as death exists would trouble any man. Rightly so, why would this topic not trouble us all? After all, we are all trapped with the missing information of what comes after we take our last breath. Those who know are no longer part of this world in order to tell us what they have felt, whom they have seen, how they have fared since.

Throughout Man’s history since the beginning of time, we have tried to find answers, to find solace in various interpretations, thoughts and beliefs. I sense that this has been one of the greatest contributions – whether good or bad – that religion has made to society. For example, Vikings used to believe in the eternal feast and fighting with fallen warriors in the halls of Valhalla, next to the god Odin. Buddhists believe in the reincarnation of the soul into a new body, representing either an upgrade or downgrade, on the path to Nirvana. Monotheistic religions such as Judaism, Christianity and Islam preach about a world where there is no pain, a neverending life of peace and joy with their God. However, even on that claim, the criteria of who gets to enter the gates of that world change with the religion in question. Ancient Egyptians believe in the balance of their soul against the feather of the goddess Maat, allowing us to either join Osiris’s kingdom in the event that our soul is lighter, or in the opposite result for us to be devoured by a monster.

At the end of the day, does it really matter what religions tell us?
Where do you think people go when they leave this world?

“I’d give up anything just to see you again
And I’m still standing like a fool in the rain”
See You Again by The Satellite Station

On a personal note, I used to say that I did not care what comes after my heart makes its final beat. It would not affect the way I am going to live my life. I would still want to make the best out of what this world has to offer. I would still want to try and become a better person. Like Lynyrd Skynyrd say in their song Simple Man, I want to “be something you’ll love and understand”. Whether there is a God or some supreme being that is going to judge me at the end of the road, I could not care any less. For you see, I would consider that I have lived a life worth remembering and that I have done the best I could when it comes to helping others. But I am not here to talk about myself. Instead, I want to shed some light on what Ragnar Lothbrok once said.

I am talking about the Ragnar Lothbrok in the series Vikings. In this show, Ragnar Lothbrok (Travis Fimmel) befriends a Christian monk called Athelstan (George Blagden), against the former’s people’s general judgement and opinion on that matter. The two developed such a strong bond through their discussions and discoveries of each other’s differences, in terms of culture, knowledge and faith. Unfortunately, this friendship was never meant to last long, for Athelstan is brutally murdered by a Viking boat builder under the claim that he has poisoned Ragnar’s heart with his Christian beliefs.

As Ragnar carries Athelstan’s lifeless body to a place for burial, the former holds one last conversation with his dear friend, sharing his pain and grief of being left behind. There is one particular sentence that shows the amount of love, respect and friendship that Ragnar had for his Christian friend when he says:

“I always believed that death is a fate far better than life, for you will be reunited with lost loved ones. But we will never meet again, my friend. I have a feeling that your god might object to me visiting you in Heaven.”

From that moment on, Lothbrok was a different person. Fast forward to when the Vikings conduct a siege on Paris, negotiations are taking place in order to put an end to the war between the two sides. As the generals discuss payments in gold, silver, and land, Ragnar Lothbrok only keeps one request in mind: he wishes to be baptised. Much to everyone’s surprise, the question of why was on every mind due to the unexpectedness of this demand. When someone finally dared to ask the million-dollar question, Ragnar’s answer to the French was brief and simple, yet it held the highest and most beautiful of standards I can think of when it comes to love.

“I am a dying man. And when I die, I want to be reunited with my Christian friend who happens to be in your Heaven.”

The differences in faith are just a mere obstacle to our greatness as humans. They are nothing but a small bump in the road to a beautiful existence and potentially afterlife we can have all together. Those scenes in the series Vikings have helped me to reevaluate my view on what comes after the end of days. There are so many people I would desperately want to be reunited with, starting firmly with Singe, Lièvre and Chacal. I sure hope the gods shook hands and agreed for us to spend time together and cross heavenly borders.

Do not let religion, race, or anything get in the way of friendship and love.
We are all going to die one day.
Let us enjoy the ride on this Earth all together.
And may we continue our adventures hand in hand in the next life as well.

“Greater love has no one than this: to lay one’s life for one’s friends.” 
John 15:13

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