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Ectoplasm


Ectoplasm

At a certain age, we begin to realize that there are more days behind than there are ahead. It’s a realization that’s bittersweet; a time to reflect on the things accomplished (or more commonly, the things we failed to accomplish) and of course on death itself.

Death is the great unknown. It is also the great tie that binds – it is one thing every human being has in common, that we all eventually die no matter how rich, how smart, how strong. Sooner or later the time comes for all of us to experience that great unknown.

When we’re young, we don’t really put much thought into death. It’s a distant thing, unpleasant but more or less like a dentist appointment that’s months away. We don’t spend time dwelling on it. And why should we? Death isn’t knocking on our door anytime soon. However, along with death, all of us age. Each day that passes is one day less that we’re going to live and our bodies soon show the wear and tear of life. They start as little aches and pains and reminders that we’re not as fast/strong/smart as we once were.

We are forced to confront our mortality. Sooner or later, we all do – rich or poor, famous or unknown, good or bad. It’s inevitable that we wonder what will come. And it’s okay to be afraid of it – the unknown is a big dark scary place, and there’s nothing bigger, darker or scarier than death.

It may come suddenly or slowly; we may see it coming or be completely surprised. Every final experience is unique. Sometimes we are surrounded by family and loved ones. Sometimes we are utterly alone. For some it comes as a relief from pain and suffering. For most, we go out kicking and screaming, our hearts full of regret for the things left un-accomplished.

Death is the grand leveler, the thing that makes the playing field even for us all. You can’t outthink death, you can’t buy your way out of it, you can’t seduce it away. No matter how invincible you are, death will come for you. It has infinite patience; it can wait for the right time. And then BANG! you’re gone.

Strangely, I’m okay with that. I didn’t used to be. I always thought of death as something unfair, a kind of cosmic scam. Why give us life only to yank it away from us after a few paltry decades? I admit, I will miss seeing the future – the explorations of the stars, the discoveries of new technologies and – I hope – maybe the maturation of our species. Perhaps we’ll figure out how to live in peace with each other. Now wouldn’t that be something worth staying around for.

But our time is limited. It is on us to accomplish the things we want to, to check off those things on our bucket list we yearn to do. Maybe the expense is beyond our reach; then perhaps owning a Lamborghini and driving from your Tuscan villa to the autobahns of Germany might not be the most realistic of goals. Instead, try to do the things you CAN do. Travel locally. Think globally. Find the things that delight you and concentrate on those. Be kind to others. Be kind to yourself. Enjoy every minute you have in life as if it were your last – because one day, you’re going to be right.

Get things done before you get too old to enjoy them. Don’t piss your money away – but don’t piss your time away either. There’s a happy medium of saving for a rainy day and not living your life. You deserve happiness and you deserve to go out thinking “Well, I  did a lot” instead of “Why didn’t I do anything?” because that sucks more than anything else possibly could.

I don’t want to go to my grave full of regrets. I do want to be able to count the coulda-woulda-shouldas on the fingers of one hand. I know deep down I can’t see everything there is to see in this world; I’m going to have to face that I won’t visit every place that I want to get to. That’s okay, as long as I get to as many places as I possibly can. So look out London. Get ready Barcelona. Hold on Tokyo. I’m coming for YOU.

There is also the terror of what lies on the other side of the veil. I won’t pretend that I have any clues. Maybe we hang around as ghosts – I don’t disbelieve  in them, being the open-minded soul that I am. Maybe there’s a heaven and a hell – I’d like to hope that there is the former waiting for me. Some believe we are reincarnated and again, I’m not one to cast aspersions on anybody’s beliefs. Maybe we do bop from body to body over the course of centuries until we get it right, which means a whole lot of bopping for some of us. Or maybe we just end, rotting in the ground and our consciousness just evaporates. I know there are plenty of people who believe that’s the case although physics tends to tell us that’s not the case – energy can’t be destroyed and what is inside us that animates us if it isn’t some form of energy?

There’s no use in being frightened of the inevitable. I don’t particularly want to die but I don’t fear it either. It’s going to happen sooner or later. What happens after that is anybody’s guess but I know one thing for certain – this world will keep on spinning around without me (unless of course I die in a planetary cataclysm that prevents the world from doing just that). And that’s the way it’s always been; we die and the world goes on.

That might strike some as fatalistic and I suppose it is but it’s also realistic. I don’t have the ego to think that the world ends when I do – it just ends for me. Actually, I take comfort in that there will be others here living in this bright, beautiful place which hopefully will continue to be bright and beautiful long after I’m gone. But for now, it’s my time on this rock just like it is yours and not making the most of it is simply a sad waste of our time here. So what do you say? Let’s all go out tonight and howl at the moon. Run naked in the summer night. Live for this moment and all the moments to come, be they few or many. We owe it to ourselves. We owe it to life.

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