The phrase ‘there are only two things certain in life: death and taxes’ is wrong. There’s only one thing certain about life, and that is death. Taxes are a man-made construct that some have never paid by virtue of their age or the society in which they have lived in. Death is for everyone. I don’t care how advanced we will become – there is no cure to death. There are no death-free havens in Switzerland or the Cayman Islands.
A lot of people don’t seem to want to talk about death, maybe because they don’t want to confront themselves with the reality of their lives. That it is temporary and the end is inevitable. Some attempts have been made to celebrate how this makes life special in modern times. The ‘you only live once’ meme from a few years back was an attempt at this; a modern spin on Carpe diem (seize the day). True; life on this earth is special for it is fleeting, though the ‘you only live once’ approach to life lead to some poor attitudes towards death. People have tragically died from making rash decisions under the pretext of ‘you only live once’ as a result of car crashes and drug overdoses. This was surely not the point in that phrase, which now lays rest in the ever expanding graveyard of popular culture.
Is there a fear of death amongst us? Whilst in much of the Western world, God may be dead, this does not do much to comfort a lot of people about their deaths and whether there is an afterlife. If anything, it could add to their anxieties. What really is there after death, then? If God and religion has lost its importance in our society, and with it, the absolute truth of an afterlife as advocated by many religions, what do a lot of people think of death?
Is it that we go into a deep sleep for eternity, never to awake? Do we cease to exist forever? Thinking about this for long enough has always left me with a particular feeling of absolute doom. There is no solace in these thoughts, unless I assume you are someone who lives such a horrible existence that an eternal sleep is a welcome idea. Can you imagine nothingness for eternity? If such a situation exists, when you die, the whole universe dies. Nothing else exists so far as you are concerned, and in a way, nothing has meaning. Surely it is terrifying to consider yourself a blip in the world?
The strange thing is, despite the fear of this thought while living, I would not be afraid if this was the reality of death, because I would not even have a consciousness to acknowledge that I had died to begin with. I would not have a consciousness of anything, because I would not exist anymore. And that loss of consciousness means no fear. But reflecting upon this scenario as I am, with my consciousness currently intact, makes me quite sad. What is our purpose in life if it all ends? Is there any purpose?
It is interesting to think about. I guess it’s one of those things one can only experience. And we will all experience it. No matter our beliefs, we all share a common mortality. It makes me feel closer to you.
I’d like to believe there is some sort of positive afterlife and maybe this is part of why I believe in an afterlife; because it’s what I’d like. Though I have to admit, even eternal life is a difficult concept to grasp.
Eternity in general is difficult to comprehend.