Death is everywhere and nowhere.
Death's a predator and no one is spared. Natural disasters and wars are taking the lives of millions. We are bombarded by one catastrophe and conflict after another--in rapid succession--without time to recover before we're assaulted by another. It's crisis overload.
And death is unrecognizable--a nothingness--a failure to exist. Death has no meaning to the dead. All we can say is that death is not life, but nothing else. Death is a void. We can't know what it is, only what it's not. Much like atheism, it is a refutation of the affirmative. Death has no meaning outside of life. And atheism has no meaning without the assertion of god.
Life however, is full of riches to behold--a treasure chest of experiences, stocking the mind with a vast wealth of memories that we can recollect and reflect upon, time and time again. We value our memories deeply; they give our life a historical narrative that serves as the foundation for meaning to take hold. We guard them with our life--until time comes knocking--taking us and our memories to the grave. Thus, our memories join our bones in the underground--buried forever. Or in the case of cremation, scattered as dust in the wind--never to be rebound.
In the space between birth and demise lies the existential crisis. If you are among the godless you will bear a great burden--the belief that there is no god who will lovingly guide you through life's end nor supply you with a future plan.You're on your own kid.
Without self-soothing illusions--otherwise known as prayer and a ticket to heaven--to give life an innate purpose, you must construct your own meaning. Because suffering is inevitable, joy is paramount. Life is good when pleasure trumps pain.
Heaven is a lie. This life is all there is. And dying really sucks because no matter how gritty and grim and burdensome and dim--full of struggle and pain--life is, it is still something to embrace. Ceasing to exist in any form again--forever--means you've been erased. Death doesn't check you into a better place. Rather, it promises a cold hard resting space. A lot of people believe in an after-existence. But their beliefs--no matter how strong they are--can't turn falsehood into truth.
You will resist, of course. But in the end, death will insist. Until then, you devise a list of all the things you want to do before you die. Because your life is your one time only chance to shine, you might as well make the most of it. At least you will have truly lived.
Here's my (kick the) Bucket List ~ So Far:
Go to London
Become a grandmother
Publish a book
Have my art displayed in public areas
Have a love affair with Keanu Reeves (Update 5/19/11 : We all need to dream a little. )
Find a best friend
Be free of regret
Drive a racing boat
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