Saturday, November 7, 2009

What makes death scary?

Is it the prospect of experiencing pain?  Is it the thought of never seeing loved ones again?  Is it uncertainty as to whether or not one is going to heaven?  Is it doubt about the existence of the afterlife?  Is the prospect of not existing simply scary?  Is it the thought that our death is inevitable and completely out of our control?  Is it biologically pre-programmed to encourage us to live and reproduce as long as possible?  Have I asked too many questions?  Yeah, I have; anyway, from what I've heard, pretty much any of the above, or more, can engender a fear of death.  And unfortunately, fear is not something so easily dispelled, even when we acknowledge that the fear is of something silly.  Yes, I'm calling the fear of death silly.

What I want is for you, and everyone, to think that a fear of death is silly.  Not profound, or deep, but silly.  I mean, fearing death because of pain is silly: living through a painful experience will prolong a pain that could be ended by death.  Death is a release from pain: biologically, your nerves have stopped working, and spiritually, you shed such mortal sentiments.  And you will see your loved ones again in the afterlife: that is, unless you've been a very bad girl or boy and you've only loved the pure of heart.  Or, suppose there is no afterlife: existence simply ends in death.  Contemplating such oblivion can be scary: however, when cease to exist, you lose your give-a-damn.  You stop caring about, thinking about, worrying about EVERYTHING.  Not having to think about, worry about, care about, or deal with anything sounds a lot better than the struggle of living: of course, you won't think so when you're dead because you can't even think about it.

Do you dislike the fact that you're not in control of your own death?  Well, there's suicide: that's taking control of your own death.  Or, consider the fact that there is very little over which you actually have complete control.  Other people?  No, that whole "free will" thing gets in the way.  Your life?  Well, that "free will" allows just about anyone to interfere in your life at any time.  Instead of worrying about death, try to realize how much else should scare you because your capacity for influence is limited.  Now, is the fear of death biologically inherent?  That I do not know, but if it is we're all kind of screwed in this regard.  Oh well, maybe it helps keep us alive.  But really, isn't that the point?

Really, that is the point: stop thinking about death!  That it is inevitable has been proven time and time again every day.  Instead of thinking that your death will come and being powerless to stop it, think of it as something more like someday your life will end.  As in, you have a limited time to make the most out of life.  So, while this is sad (I can't do everything I want too), we might as well hop to it: the clock is ticking.  The end will come, so let's make the most out of life while it lasts.  As to this point, I do not judge: if making the most out of life to you is accumulating wealth, good on you.  If it's loving a lot of people, that's just fine.  If it's collecting Russian dolls, hey, it's your life.

Just remember, you will never get your life back once it's over.  Even should you be reincarnated, sources indicate you won't remember your previous life very well.  So, this is effectively your one and only life.  Don't worry about what comes after it: you'll have plenty of time to do that later.  And dammit, I've slipped into telling you what to do again.  Oh well, I won't beat myself up about it: it won't matter after I'm dead anyway :-)

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