I’ve been thinking a lot about mortality lately, possibly due to my own current failures at losing weight, and possibly due to my aunt’s recent passing.
I was raised Christian, but thinking back I am not sure that I ever truly believed in God or Heaven. I think part of that is because I always wanted more. I wanted magic, I wanted miracles, I wanted to see supernatural and seemingly impossible things. I’ve loved magic and powers and mysteries since I was old enough to understand the concepts and to recognize that such things never really happened in real life.
I have always had a very active imagination, and always had a strange fascination with things associated with magic/power/supernatural things.
I think that once I was old enough to begin realizing that magic wasn’t real, it began nagging at the back of my mind. My attempts at becoming Pagan/Wiccan were a desperate attempt at both attention and at finding some kind of proof of the existence of the magic I craved, but I never truly believed it.
I’ve also always had a nagging fear of death, something I shove out of my mind as soon as it takes hold. Everyone fears death I think, but for me the very idea of not existing is what horrifies me.
I started reading a book on my kindle. “Comforting Thoughts about Death that have nothing to do with God” by Greta Christina. In it the author discusses how even those who have religions beliefs of an afterlife fear death when they think about it. The part I am at now she is discussing the torture it must be (if it were real) for a person to be in heaven but know family/loved ones who didn’t earn a place are burning in hell. She talks about how it is little comfort to believe you’re going to heaven if you know people you love will spend their eternity in torment. She also talks about if bliss is forced upon you in heaven (if, for example, when you get there you don’t worry about those who earned their place in hell) then you have lost part of what makes you, you, and thus are no longer yourself, and that too is horrifying.
I admit I agree with that. If I were a devout Christian and not the bisexual/asexual atheist doomed for the fires of hell (if it were real) and I thought that perhaps one of my sisters, or a daughter, or granddaughter, would be going to hell for such an undeserving reason as not believing, I feel heaven would be terrible, and being forced to forget them would be terrible.
At the same time however, when I contemplate non-existence I have a bit of a metal crisis.
I get that I wont realize I’m gone, because I’ll be gone. It’ll be like it was before I was born, just…nothing. Not even nothing because nothing implies the knowledge that there was something and now there is not. So once I’m dead, I won’t care, I wont exist to care, or not care. I wont be.
And that terrifies me.
I may not love my physical self, and I may dislike my emotional self, but I love my mental self. I love thinking, daydreaming, knowing, learning. I know I won’t miss these things when I am gone, I won’t exist to miss anything, but I don’t want it to end, I don’t want to not exist. I want to exist.
The book I’m reading does talk, however, about how knowing that death is the end, that there is nothing after it, makes the short amount of time we do have precious. It puts things in perspective, doesn’t it? I fear death so much, and yet I willingly bring it closer every day I remain obese and risk diabetes and heart attacks and any other obesity related potential death. Because the fear of death is easy to put on the back burner, to brush aside and not think on. To just trick myself into believing I’ve got 60 or 70 years left, that my life isn’t even 1/3rd over yet.
When in reality, if I keep treating my body the way I am now, I could have less than 10 years left.
It’s easy to just not think about that. But reading this book is forcing me to think about it.
As the author writes, it’s forcing me to contemplate my emotions about death, my fears, my terror, my sadness. Contemplating how I feel about death, accepting it, making peace with it, and in so doing realizing that my days are numbered, and that each one is a gift.
A few months ago, when I was really struggling with who I wanted to be, perhaps reading this book and thinking these things would have caused me to quit playing WoW, to get rid of my new computer, to try and find some way to force myself to draw, or write, or sculpt. But now it’s making me wonder… if I have so many days left, how do I really want to spend them?
Let’s say that I’ve got 67 years left, that I’ll live to be 100 (I’m being positive and optimistic here). 67 years times 365 days a year, that’s 24,455 days left on this earth. 3,484 weeks. 804 months. When I look back at my life what will I regret not doing? Anything? In the large scheme of things will it matter?
I’ve never really been one to care about other people, I’m selfish in a way. I’m not selfish in all ways. If I was holding $100 and looking at a homeless man I’d probably give the man the money if I could afford to, if I didn’t need it for food or gas for myself. I’ve already daydreamed frequently enough about winning the lotto. It’s over 300 million right now. If I wont 300 million dollars, I’d give 1 million to the 30-40 closest people, friends/family to me, pay off all my own debts, probably keep maybe 5-10 million for myself, and give the rest to various charities. I’d buy a big acerage of land, build a small house in the middle of it with a barn and enough pasture for 3-5 horses, and riding trails all around, and live the rest of my life riding horses and playing whatever MMO I’m obsessed with that week, and watching TV and movies, and occasionally making art when the mood strikes. So I’m not selfish in the sense that I’d keep things for myself and never help anyone for the sake of helping.
But I am selfish in the sense that I don’t want to be responsible for anyone else’s happiness. I don’t want to feel obligated to spend time with people, to be a shoulder to cry on, to listen to their problems, to help them move their furniture, to call them on the phone and ask how they’re doing.
It’s a strange dynamic. If I could feed all the hungry children in the world, give them all warm beds to sleep in and new toys to play with and an education I’d gladly do so. If I had enough money to do that I’d live in a crummy 1 bedroom apartment and give everything I had to that, provided I had my own distractions, books, tv, mmos, to occupy my desire to consume stories and entertainment. But ask me to go to your son’s 2 year birthday party and I’d rather eat slugs.
And so, I would be perfectly happy living the rest of my life in relative solitude. Death of family and friends bothers me, not so much out of saddness or grief or loss, but at the need to be there, emotionally, for other people. Weird, isn’t it? That I can be so emotional myself, and recognize those emotions at others, but not want to be bothered with having to show care or be comforting and witness someone else’s emotions. That is what makes me selfish. Giving money to the homeless is easy, and makes me feel good. Selfish. Being there for someone emotionally is hard, boring, and I’d rather be doing almost anything else.
I’m rambling, and this tangent was meant to go somewhere but I lost it. There was a purpose that tied my selfishness in this regard to my fear of death and my realization that my time is limited and I should spend it doing the things I love.
But that I don’t love eating mac & cheese as much as I love playing WoW, watching Sherlock and Doctor who and Game of Thrones, reading Harry Potter or Wheel of Time for the twentieth time, or daydreaming. And so continuing to eat junk I shouldn’t is robbing me of the time to do those things. That if I do want to have 67 or more years left, I need to be healthier.
Because when I die, that’s it. Game over.