Friday, July 23, 2004

Dyin' Would Be a Stone Groove

I have often said that personally I am not afraid of death. I am much more afraid of growing old. The thought of losing my faculties, losing control over my own body is much more frightening than death itself. There was a great line in the film Pretty in Pink where Annie Potts’ character asks Molly Ringwald’s teenage ‘Andie’ "Why can't we start out old, and get younger?" I think we would definitely appreciate life more if that were the case. Although I imagine it might be a bit harder on our mothers.

As a child I had absolutely no concept of my own mortality. When I look back at some of the crazy stunts I pulled, I am at times shocked that I'm still among the living. I wish that I could pinpoint the actual moment that I realized that I was far from immortal. I would have to take care if I did not want to hurry the whole dying thing along. I still was not afraid of death, but at least I was aware of it.

To me now, the thought of dying is almost exciting... as long as I get to die on my own terms. I am hoping to go peacefully in my sleep, preferably after a marathon session of sex with a nubile young nymphomaniac. If that is the way I get to go then death can be looked at as an adventure. Death is truly the last frontier; the final mystery of mankind. What comes next?

Humans have been asking this question for almost as long as we have been able to formulate rational thoughts. "Where did we come from?" may be the only question asked more often than "Where do we go when we die?" I think that most of the major religions in the world were formed simply to answer these two queries. Not that they've come up with any satisfactory answers to date.
Personally I do not believe in heaven or hell. I do not believe in any sort of afterlife per se. Nor do I subscribe to the belief that we are reincarnated. In my more philosophical moments, I view life as a staircase that goes on for eternity in both directions. The kind of life you lead, the kind of person that you try to be determines whether or not you move up or down on the staircase when your time comes. Sometimes one might just move laterally on the same step. However, I do not think that I will remember where I was before, my "previous life." I think that the stairs are closer to different dimensions than they are to other lives. I feel it would be impossible to even comprehend one level of existence while entrenched in another.
In my more cynical moments, I do not even see the staircase. I think we are nothing more than apes with abnormally large brains. We have developed language, engage in associative reasoning, and arrogantly believe that this makes us special. Sometimes I think we are really nothing more than extremely lucky animals. A fortunate mutation allowed our brains to develop. But then we decided that our brains were instead minds. We are primates with delusions of grandeur. If we really are just glorified monkeys then chances are that when we die, that is it. End of story.

This still does not scare me however. It is the way of nature. Everything dies, and everything decays; entropy is all around us. I feel we should not spend our lives fearing its end, but rather enjoying each moment we do have. If I spend all my time worrying about when and how I will shuffle off this mortal coil, when will I have time to actually live?