A candid tale of 20-something humanness and extended note to self.

Saturday, 12 April 2014

One day, we will be dead

I'm not sure what the protocol is in terms of writing a piece about death. Let's start with this simple and forthright message; we are all going to dieYup, there will come a day when every human being who currently inhabits this earth, including me, and you (sorry), will invade an unceasing state of total oblivion. There too will come a time when everything we ever thought and said and did and discovered will be forgotten. Even my amazing cartwheels.

It sounds bizarre, doesn't it, that it should feel necessary to promote such information when its sentiment is the most intrinsic part of our human experience. We have all loved people who no longer exist. We all know those hideous feelings of devastation and grief and the pain of desperately missing somebody who is no longer physically present. Yet still, there's a makeshift social umbrella of fear and taboo that attaches itself to the word 'death', leading us to either brazenly ignore it, or even to vilify the concept. We rarely talk about it. If ever it allows itself into our active cognition, we try to bat it away with thoughts of rainbows and unicorns and what we're having for dinner tonight. Of course, that's a very natural human approach, because 'shit, argh, we're actually going to die,' is quite the damning realisation, but really, it's the only definite realisation that we can ever have about our future. All that was once different will become eternally the same.

It's all too easy to revel in the assumption that we'll have the privilege of growing old and wrinkly and sprouting silver hair and reminiscing about those raunchy things that we got up to fifty years ago (did anyone ever actually indulge in a little tomfoolery behind the bike sheds?!), but unfortunately there's no guarantee of such luck. There is vibrant injustice and overwhelming fragility in our existence; if you get to experience the marvel of a maturing body and a bus pass, embrace it, I dare you.

Most of all, I dare you to do the following; accept that you are going to die. Don't dwell on the reality of it or cry about it or start letting your assiduous mind invent scenarios as to how it might happen,  just accept it and use it to live your life better. Seek inspiration from it when times are good, take comfort in it when times are terrible. Say it out loud every now and again. Think it and realise how extraordinary it is to have consciousness and the ability to think it. Look at your naked body and know that one day it won't be blessed with the inhabitancy of your bizarre, beautiful mind and a bunch of useful organs that allowed you to wake up this morning.

The explicit acceptance of our own mortality is all we need to see life differently; to know that most of the things we stress about aren't important, to understand that adventures need to be pursued now, that there really is no time like the present, and that sometimes having 'too much to lose' is an invalid excuse because through the simple art of respiratory success we're already at our most stripped and vulnerable. It sounds terrifying, and it is terrifying, but it's true.

Appreciate that however different we may be as individuals, we live in a whirlwind of specical* sameness. No matter how funny or smart or awesome we are, the universe, quite frankly, does not give a shit. It it not here to please us. It has no sense of obligation to us; no favourites, no special rules, no conceivable consideration towards our plight. Our only true significance on this earth lays in the eyes of those who love or look up to us. We owe those people everything for making us matter in a world where really we do not matter at all. Let's cherish those people and make them laugh with our terrible jokes and do our best to make their voyage into oblivion, as well as our own, as gratifying as possible.

As human beings, we are unquestionably brilliant and insanely imaginative and ridiculously capable and irreparably flawed and perpetually fascinating. We are all of those things but we are not wizards nor superheroes. We are entirely mortal. I can't promise you much but I can promise you this, that this moment, right now; this exquisite and terrible pocket of precious time in which we can all share in the pleasure and awfulness of our prevailing survival, in which you read this that I wrote for you, will one day become nothing more than, well, just that. Nothing. Carpe that diem whilst you still can. Live your life as well as possible. Chase your dreams. Tell the folk you love that you love them. Eat pizza. Enjoy ravenous intercourse. Laugh so hard you do a little wee. Be nice. Have hearty chinwags. Ride unicorns. Do the macarena. Pay compliments. Help people. Don't have a breakdown when you spill gravy on your best shirt. Be awesome. And do cartwheels, lots of them. They won't be as good as mine, but the universe won't hold it against you.



*This is a word that I invented for the sake of this post. Pronounced 'speesh-ic-all', it is an adjective derived from the noun 'species', which describes our mutual state of existence as human beings. I think. It made sense in my head. Carp'ed that diem, yes I did. 



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1 comment

  1. I LOVED this post - it's so easy to wish time away waiting for the weekend/summer/the day people stop asking you when they'll be hearing wedding bells that it's good to be reminded that you won't always have the days to wish away!

    I do hope I go in a way that makes for an memorable obituary, though...

    Hannah

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