I started dying in 1952.
I’ve continued dying for the next 60 years, bringing me to the present. So far, dying has been pretty good.
Sure, there have been difficult times, but other times have been a blast. Even now, when one would think I’ve had enough of dying, each day I look forward to the process.
I die a little as I take notice of a sunrise, when I snack, as I listen to music, when hug my wife, when I see the sun paint the sky blood red, when I stare, my mouth agape, at the brilliantly clear night, with Orion sitting there, seemingly near enough to touch.
Someday I will stop dying. I won’t know it, of course. When I stop dying, I will cease to be. Perhaps I’ll continue for a spell, as a memory. Memories, too, start to die as soon as they are formed. But a memory is not me.
Even if I do something amazing, something which brings notoriety, or infamy, it will not be me future generations will remember, but what I did; my actions. The memory of me, the person, will be lost. Some may infer things, but lacking first-hand knowledge, they will not know me, the way I thought, reasoned, struggled, succeeded, or failed through each dying moment.
I had been dying for twenty breathing years when the awareness of dying became “real”. I met my wife. It was not a moment of panic; it was awareness of the timeframe, and made me aware of my place in it, and of the importance of that awareness.
I remember my view of dying crystallizing into map of sorts. As arbitrary as years are, they nonetheless punctuated the dying process. Decades punctuated stages of my life. In my twenties, I saw a string of decades, each less clear than the previous. It was not predictions, nor was it a plan. It was just an awareness that, barring some accident or unfortunate disease, each decade moved me closer to where I could no longer imagine me as still dying.
Right now I have a vague idea of the dying still left to do . . . but it is not as clear as it once was. In fact, I am at the point I had first imagined would be near the end of my dying. It seemed like such a long time . . . 40 years. Things have changed, and I can visualize the next three, maybe even four decades of dying. I have plans for things to do. I can imagine me in each of those decades, but . . . there is no great confidence in the vision.
I’m at the unpredictable stage of dying. Yes, it was always unpredictable, but stuff can fail, processes can go wrong. We are, after all, machinery, and I sport old machinery.
Assuming all other organs outlasting the heart (not a certainty), each heartbeat is counting down to when your heart gives out, you run out of beats, and your dying is over. Of course, lots of things can cut that short.
Many people are defiant, and do things which might hasten their dying process. Often, you’ll hear them say they do such things to “make them more aware of dying”, or to “give dying more meaning”. It need not be something as spectacular as climbing a mountain, deep sea diving, spelunking, or trekking through unexplored forests. It can just be enjoying lots of good food. Strange how so many good things can hasten the dying process.
Many people fear the end of dying. It affects everything they do, often not in a pleasant way. I believe our awareness of dying is responsible for all the religions I can think of.
Religions offer reassurance (to some) by selling (literally) dying as but a stage of a longer journey to . . . something. They don’t know what, of course, but that does not stop them from coming up with some pretty silly things.
I would laugh, but the consequences of this desire to “be” forever, and the tales associated with “being” forever, take away from the enjoyment of dying. My opinion, of course.
There is something called Pascal’s Wager. In short, it postulates one should live as if god, and by association, an afterlife, exist. If god does not exist, you have lost nothing, but if god does exist, you are a winner.
There are many things wrong with this, but foremost in my mind is the enormity of the initial wager. If there is no god, if there is no afterlife, you have squandered away the only time period in the history of the universe when you existed as a thinking, self-aware being.
Consider, for a moment, the additional quandary of which god to choose, which rules to follow, which tortuous requirement must be met, and I find it bewildering so many are willing to bet the one sure thing they have; their existence.
After all, given the vast number of gods, the variety of rules, and confusing interpretations of those rules, the odds of anyone choosing correctly are small. And yet, everyone believes, to the point of being willing to kill, they have made the correct choice.
That’s not for me, Bob.
I can’t say I am pleased about a finite time to my dying. Having said that, I don’t know what would be a sufficient amount of time. Two hundred years? A thousand? A million? I don’t know about others, but my mind can’t comprehend that.
I can comprehend, and accept, the time I do have.
And yes, I would be silly to deny apprehension regarding the actual transition (quick and peaceful is my fondest hope).
But “after”? No problem. The idea of being no more does not scare me. It seems to me no different than going to sleep each night, surrendering my consciousness to oblivion. Not waking up (again, my preferred way to transition into “not being”), while it would impact those who care about me, would be a non-event, for I would be no more, and therefore, would not be aware it.
I would not, and do not, take comfort in imagining “transitioning” into another existence. Even if I could accept the idea “something” continued beyond this dying process, it would not be me.
This me is centered in this world, this body, these experiences, this process of dying. I am the totality of this experience, and regardless of all beliefs floating out there, it is self-evident to me that at the end of this process of dying, the me others know, the awareness I have of myself and my world, would be no more.
Meanwhile, I’ll enjoy dying as long as I can.
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. . . my FP ward . . . chieken shit.