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10/23/2011

Barely-there: Reflections on Life



There you have it. Life. 
That’s usually the way life is handed over to us. As a surprise. 
And it is also exactly the way it is taken from us. Maybe not as surprising, but suddenly, most of the times. You may have lived a 100 years, 47 or 10, in the end, we all share this one elusive moment, this long corridor we have to go towards the door. We’ll all end up towards the big red signs. E X I T, sooner or later.
                                      
First Light by Brian Devon
Have you ever made the bold statement, that you will never ever die? Maybe you did, as a child. We all do think this at one point in our lives, when we feel invincible, youthful and a bit spoiled by the richness of it all. It passes. It doesn’t mean one would necessarily want one's life to end either. The fragments of longevity, the pieces of a life, they are very precious to us mortals.

In the end, we all are un-eternal, passing states of existence, really, silly little selves, and most of us don't even make it in the News Reports once, for either good or bad reasons.



He or she went peacefully usually means there wasn’t offered much resistance, either for a lack of strength or determination. Maybe “body” sometimes is truly convincing in stating that there isn’t much to gain in resisting anymore. 

And that cursed clock is ticking forwards, as always.

At least we hope for something in the end, these last eye-opening thoughts, images, buried memories to surface and ultimately, crystal clear insights on how and why there is something rather than nothing. We imagine the mental floodgates opening, washing out the lived memories of one existence. When preconceptions crumble and all our judgement fails, we die as we are born. As spectators of one slightly naive slide show. One last trip down memory lane. That's what we expect.


Tunnel with person walking towards the light. Sounds familiar?

I am not sure if it’s good to think about death or the dying in a certain way with white lights, tunnels and so on, but on the other hand, if there is nothing that awaits us from the moment of death forth, besides darkness, it wouldn’t be much of a loss either. Hardly any grounds to file a complaint when our lifetime expires.

I sometimes feel like I am an old being, much older than I actually am, I don’t mean in a creepy I have lived in another lifetime sort of way, but in a rings-around-my-belly kind of way. I feel old, but not wise. Wise would be great. Wise is old with an attitude. I don’t have that luxury yet. At the moment, I just feel like a used car, but one without great mileage. 

Anyhow, when I sometimes think about the things I didn’t do, the opportunities I missed so far, the children I could already have had, I must admit, that pure wisdom is probably far down the list of the typical “been there - done that” mentality. In the end, all the things we do to gain something, let it be status, money, acceptance, our parents approval, or whatever it is that propels and motivates, they are purely ornamental, as are all things finite, lacking in proper substance to keep us warm.

When life itself won’t hold still for a moment, to put those achievements in a nice frame to let them be enjoyed and appreciated, they must be worthless, nothing but fleeting shapes, soulless containers, and a false promise of some kind of reward. The cake is a lie. Life's achievements won’t guarantee anyone a special seat or better treatment when the final lights are fading. On this train or the next.

It’s a rather grim outlook and a really depressing thought, I agree. But it doesn’t mean, we should stick our heads in the sand and sit tight until day x finally comes. As a living, breathing being we lack the capacity to grasp the concept of what it truly means to be dead anyhow. So why not do something about it while we can?

The good thing is that it doesn’t necessarily have to be like that forever. The inevitability of death shrinks with every research done to understand and cure disease, every new insight in regenerative medicine, and every new person reaching 100 years now proves that we are successfully pushing some boundaries in that direction, prolonging lifespans as we speak. 

And this gives me some much needed hope that we may be, after all, not a dying breed, but a prospering one and really, happy little selves, if silly ones, nonetheless.



The Medusa of Jellyfish. Turritopsis nutricula; lifespan: potentially infinite