Halloween has passed. Kiddos ran around in costumes. Adults ran around in skimpier costumes. Everybody should be crashing from their sugar high. I love that we have a day where we confront devils and demons and things that go bump in the night. It allows us to face fear with a smile. But what I’m really trying to do is confront/distract/convince myself into believing I’m not afraid of death.
I know it’s ok to be afraid of it. Death is the end of conscious existence. I don’t know about the rest of you, but I really like my conscious existence. My biology fights tooth and nail to hold on to every second of living. No wonder human beings have propagated thousands of stories about what happens after death and many more about how to live forever. It gives a false sense of security that maybe, just maybe, death can be cheated.
I don’t want to live in fear of death anymore. So I recently stopped worrying about the afterlife. It can’t be proven outside of a leap of faith and I’m no longer willing to entertain the idea. Most religions follow a pretty (not so) simple path to paradise: be a righteous person in how you live in order to gain spiritual rewards later. If I don’t follow the rules, I am damned for eternity.
But what happens when I stop believing? Do I no longer have any incentive to be a “good” person? I figure just because I no longer look towards heaven doesn’t mean I have to be a dick. I don’t need damnation to coerce me into doing the right thing. Kindness is still the key to my immortality!
All my grandparents have passed away, some aunts and uncles too; I had a friend (Daryl) pass more than ten years ago. Each of those people made an impression on me. Their smiles, kind words and personalities are all inside my memory. On days like Halloween, when I am supposed to laugh in the face of death, I take a moment to bring the dead back to life. I mourn that they are gone; I celebrate the fact that they lived, and let me live with them.
In order to overcome my fear of death, I had to just accept that it will happen and stop worrying about what would happen after. Like my deceased loved ones, the only way I’ll get to live past my time is by making an impression on the hearts and minds of the people around me. My personal preference is to be remembered for being a good man. Therefore, I still strive for righteousness; but focused on the here and now, rather than the here and after.