Okay, internet. Here comes a big one.
This will also be the first time I’ve really spoken on a grand scale about this one. Not because it’s shameful, but rather because I’ve never really felt the need to trouble anyone with it. But I recently (like as of last night) decided to see what popular opinion is, and just how common it really is. Assuming my readership is broad enough right now to make it worthwhile. But even if not, I find writing cathartic, and it’s a good way to organize my own thoughts into something coherent so that I can more easily make sense of them.
This is a problem that’s been troubling me for twenty-odd years, and I still have yet to truly find a solution. Most days I get by by ignoring it. It doesn’t affect my day-to-day life, and when all is said and done, I can’t reasonably expect it to even be a concern until many years from now. But the problem I face is death. Yes, death. That most final of periods to complete the sentence of life.
Let me be clear, it’s not the dying that troubles me. That might be painful, or even peaceful, but it’s still something to be experienced. What terrifies me some nights is the moment when life is extinguished. And the reason it terrifies me is because I don’t know what comes after. I suppose you could say it’s more a fear of the unknown, but usually I’m intrigued by the unknown. Driven to find what’s out there.
I am a curious soul by nature, but therein lies part of the problem. My passion is everything and nothing at the same time. I’m passionate about learning, but almost never delve too deeply. Just enough to get a good understanding, and then I move on to the next thing. I’ll get to how it’s part of the problem in a minute, but first I have to explain the other parts. See, they all tie into each other.
I also happen to be a generous soul. Often much more so than is sound. I will gladly keep nothing to myself, if it means helping others. But I would quickly end up broke, hungry and homeless if that happened, and how could I continue helping if I went that far? I couldn’t. So I fight my urges when necessary to ensure my survival and continued help.
And lastly (for the time being anyway), I have a very logical, analytical mind. I don’t curse it, because it’s been the single greatest skill I have, but it makes belief in a higher power (God, Gaia, Flying Spaghetti Monsters, etc) difficult at best. There’s no evidence to support it, truly. And yet still I do want to believe. There are certain things science has yet to explain, and may never explain, so wonder and faith is still technically a possibility. And I see it in the fact that when I’m in my darkest moments, or at my most desperate, I will pray. I still have little hope that it will change anything, but that’s more to do with me knowing that even if a God does exist, he has no reason to help me necessarily. And quite often does not (at least in my perspective).
So those parts all together lead me to one thing. I have no real faith in an afterlife, a soul, reincarnation, or any such thing. As a result, I see this being my only shot at conscious thought. And if that’s true, then what of my passion for learning? What of helping others? All of that will vanish. But there will always be more to learn. People will always need help. And the really scary part is… I see death as a dreamless sleep you never wake from. I will simply cease to be.
And I don’t know how to reconcile any of it. I don’t know how to be comfortable with losing literally everything. I don’t know how to be okay with leaving the world in the condition it is. And so I reach out to what is probably the least likely place to find comfort and knowledge: the internet. To you. Tell me of your own way of solving this, the greatest of final problems…