Am I grateful for death?

Am I grateful for death?

Dying bums me out. 

I sat on the couch the other night thinking about how much of a bummer it is that at one point I'll slip into nothingness, the same nothingness as before I was born, and never have or feel anything ever again. This started because my girlfriend was tearing up thinking about uprooting and moving next week, the standard military move every so often. I try not to get sad about leaving or a change of venue, I try to stay somewhat level-headed emotionally. One time my friend made an off-handed comment at the airport in response to me being bummed that our vacation was over. He said, "You gotta let the good times go as easily as the bad." It was such a subtle statement I almost missed it. 

It's had a big impact on the way I live my life. I later heard a zen proverb somewhere that talked about someone running around on the beach fruitlessly trying to stop the waves from running in. I like to think of experiencing emotions, and life, like someone looking at the ocean. I moved from fighting the waves to watching them, to getting into the ocean and surfing. 

But all this goes back to wondering how I should feel about moving. It's easy to feel excited (we are moving to the beach from Oklahoma) but it's also sad to be leaving this era of my life. On the same couch where I was thinking about how dying bums me out, I realized I'd be telling my kids and grandkids about this era of my life that I'm leaving. But I'll pass over it so quickly. I'll say something to them like, "I lived in Oklahoma for a year and a half while I went to pilot training." It was so sad to me that all the memories, all the people, the house we lived in that we did work on, our taco spot, etc.... all of it would one day be passed over like it never happened. I may not even remember most of it and in conversation, it will be beside the point. I'll move on to some other era of my life and pass over most of the details too. I'm sad I'm moving because it feels like these memories, these people, are in a sense going to a memory grave. (This is obviously one of the many reasons why being intentional about being present in the journey and enjoying it is so important.)

It also means that I'm one era closer to dying, how many more will I have before interminable silence? So this is the rabbit hole that led to me being bummed about life coming to an end, I wished it didn't have to end. Then a clip of the Epilogue to Sapiens by Yuval Harari played in my head, where humans live for hundreds of years. What would a social culture look like? What would relationships look like? 

Then I thought about living forever. What urgency would I have to do anything if I could do it anytime, forever? The most valuable thing I can do right now is giving my time to someone or something, what would I do when I have infinite time? I'm bummed the great things come to an end but a reason that they feel so wonderful and so beautiful in part is because I know it will end, because this moment is finite and I only have a finite number of them. My mortality makes things worth it, makes choosing whom I love matter (to the extent you can choose that), what hobbies I have, or whom I choose to spend time with. So, the same thing I want to get rid of allows me to enjoy the things that I do in life, in a way it gives them meaning. So this life that I want to live forever wouldn't be the same without death. 

So eventually I come back to this place where I am grateful for death, as it provides much to my life. How unfortunate that I want to live forever in this life but if I would then it wouldn't be the same life. So the thing I want to dislike the most, death, is the necessity for this way of life. A sad but also liberating realization.

I can't be mad at death, which also has no bearing on if it will happen or not, so it doesn't matter if I'm mad or not or really anything that I said in this blog. But I'm continually coming to terms with it and this is part of that process. Anyways, I can't be mad at death, should I say thank you? 

If you're interested in deep diving into the idea that our mortality gives our life meaning, I think it'd be beneficial to read Martin Hagglund's, This Life: Why Mortality Makes Us Free.

See you in two weeks.

'Til Our Last Breath, 

James Kiesewetter


Click here for more information on James’ book Smile Your Last Breath Away
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