Death, that vicious constraint that awaits us all, transforms life into a very serious business…
… but not for the reason that terrorized me as a child…
… namely, the fear of what might happen to me after I die.
To be clear, I have no fear of being dead (although I do dread the potentially horrific process of dying).
And I have no fear of being dead for at least two reasons…
First, if indeed this life is all that there is, I have no more reason to fear my infinite non-existence in “the afterlife” than I had to fear my infinite non-existence in “the beforelife”.
Second, if there just so happens to be something for me beyond this world, so be it, but I have no heartbeats to waste searching for, quibbling about, or wagering on the unknown and unknowable.
And so, being dead is not a problem. Being alive is a problem… for all of us.
Nothingness in this life, the only one we know, is the real tragedy.
So, let’s talk about life.
Even if blessed with a hundred healthy years on this planet, my time here is infinitesimally small in comparison to the inconceivably long time that preceded my birth and the inconceivably long time that will follow my passing. This stark realization in no way makes the case for a life of resignation, hopelessness, and meaninglessness. Quite the contrary, such finitude renders my painfully short existence infinitely precious… and I must make the most of it.
And so, I embrace my mortality… not out of morbid fascination and dread… but as a boon to living… as motivation to reject the routine and trivial… as the reason to sing my songs, even if I never get to finish them all… with such intensity, urgency, honesty, integrity, courage, compassion, and gusto that once is enough.