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.
7 thoughts on “What am I (really) afraid of?”
Oh, I’m terrified of death. Its existence colors most of my decisions. I pretend, for the sake of preserving some calm, that it is a facet of the far future. Of course, who knows.
At the same time, life is sweet and tragic because it is so ephemeral and easy to waste.
I presume there is likely no afterlife and my existence, as well as my loved ones, is a happy accident. When I am successful in not taking life for granted, I fear death the least. When I forget my mortality, I fear it most.
It’s a hard thing not to be terrified of. Biology fights it tooth and nail… what worries me more now, isn’t death, but the dying. I am terrified of the suffering. I can only hope for a quick and clean death, while trying to live every day fully awake to the wonder life has to offer.
Now and again I make an effort to prepare for my eventual demise. Just sitting and meditating on the subject. How my life ends is unclear, but I do sense it’s near. Right on the horizon almost at arm’s reach.
Every moment of every day, celebrate something amazing Aunt Victoria! I guarantee many years from now (since you still have quite a few years left) you will live on in the memories of those who love you and share your memory with others!
This was really nice, Justin. Of course just reading this will prompt the individual to examine their own feelings, and think about something that is inevitable, but many of us push out of our minds most of the time. I have noticed that if I fear death (I say ‘if’ because I tend to fluctuate all over) that my various reasons change over time. So there’s that. Also, I have never feared anything to do with an afterlife, or what happens beyond… When thoughts wander I think “Hey- get back to making the most of this time- every day!”, As you said.
I’m sure this will be a subject I revisit over the years… but it’s just the season to do some reflecting on my own mortality. 🙂 Thanks for reading!
I appreciate my life ever more so when I look towards the end, but I am being a stoic about it. It’s one of those odd things about being a human, we have an understanding of time, and thus death. I think being more in the moment is just the way to go. I accepted long ago that my time on this planet is finite, the moment I did so I came to the same conclusion you did; make a difference -even if only to one person- and continue to move forward with the decisions made. Appreciate the living and those who have passed before us and accept that we to shall pass.