Tuesday, 24 December 2013

Death and all his friends

It seems the older I get, the more I consider the end of my life as a real situation. It would seem that, despite evidence to the contrary, we humans often assume a certain fixed length of time, and even though we know there are no guarantees of that time, we plan for it and keep it in the back of our minds as a deadline, if you will. This in mind, I often wonder about that undiscovered country, usually when I lie awake of a night. And despite the fact that I can find no compelling evidence for an afterlife of any sort, beyond the reintegration of my constituent matter into the ecosystems of the Earth, the fact remains that I cannot, nor can anyone, be certain. Therefore, as Peter Pan once said, to die will be an awfully big adventure; but, it will also be a tad scary.

There are many reasons why I would want an afterlife to be real, and many people I know who believe in one because of these reasons. I can't see that the desire for something alone is sufficient evidence to assume it is true, and so I resolve to use the one life I can say for certain exists, in the best way possible. I think this is a healthy attitude and one which would be beneficial to the world as a whole. If you knew that your actions, for good or ill, were only measurable by the effects they have on others here and now, wouldn't that make you behave better? Maybe not, but the world now is hardly a bastion of altruism, despite threats of everlasting torment or some vague reward of milk and honey. In fact the promise of rewards after death can lead to the most terrible behaviours. I need not give examples here; just watch the news.

I think the worst thing about the fact that there might not be an afterlife, is I will never get to say I told you so.

If I am honest (and I like to think I am), mostly the thought of death as unpredictable motivates me to write more; there are a few projects I have had in mind for a time now, which I would really like to get finished. Some of these have yet to even be started. The thought also motivates me to exercise and get well, but I find that I am often more resolved during my midnight musings than when faced with a day of jogging and broccoli.

There are certainly many pros to being dead, and I will not borrow a format from Bobby Gaylor and say that I will not miss exercise, cereal, tooth maintenance, pregnancy scares, getting fatter, pain (both emotional and physical), stressing about money, boring jobs, or funerals. On the other hand, if it's possible to miss things when dead, there are a lot of things I will definitely miss: the satisfaction of finishing a novel, and having people read it, of having done exercise and feeling that warm tiredness, clean sheets after a hard day, talking to girls, and all the other things you do with girls, music and the emotion it brings, a nice cup of tea, too many different types of food to mention, Christmas with family, drinks with friends, dancing until dawn, talking shit even longer, looking good in new clothes, watching excellent movies over and again, or for the first time, waking up and realising it's Saturday. There are so many things I could do over and over again, perhaps even forever, but most definitely for the rest of my life.

The problem is, I don't want to ruin the time that I have now worrying about it being over. Like being at a concert and constantly checking the time so you can rush off to get the last tube. It puts a cloud over the whole thing. So, I will try and use the idea as motivation, and deal with the inevitable when it happens. Or maybe, have my consciousness put in a robot, and live forever.

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