The eternal paradox of life and death tightens its grip on us, whilst at the same time being challenged by modern science. Centuries before our time, the cycle of life and death was readily accepted. The afterlife was worshipped to be everlasting, with many cultures investing a lot of their time and energy into ensuring a good afterlife (see, Egyptians, Myans, Vikings etc). Life was cyclical. It came and went as the seasons changed.
A fantastic marketing ploy in only the past 100 years has made time liner and fashioned it into a commodity to be earned and spent. A line stretching straight on into the void. This shift in scope has changed our current view of the passage of time. Instead of accepting death as a part of life, science and engineering has aspired to extend our normal cycles to be everlasting. The search for eternal life continues in earnest. Science fiction movies envision suspended hibernation, beings who live beyond our normal human stretch of years. New aged health care, medicines, lifestyles are marketed with the possibility of extending your life, at a price. We can exchange one currency for another. Money for time.
The dramatic events of recent history, Chernobyl, 9/11, the Boxing Day Tsunami, have made us even more keenly aware of how fragile life is, whilst at the same time still thinking “it won’t happen to me”. Many of us live in the ignorant bliss of our own mortality, whilst quickly passing judgement on others. It’s easier to not think about death. But right there, in really knowing you don’t get to live forever, that you only have this one shot, can we really transcend, can we really appreciate the gift of today and live the best of it. In the immortal words of Eminem, “if you only had one shot, would you take it?” Sure, your new behaviour might be seen as erratic, neurotic even, but only to the people who aren’t on your level.
Refusing to live in constraints given to you by society might be seen as crazy. It might seem enlightened. It might be the encouragement someone else needs to break free of their chains and truly live their best life today. Because you don’t know what will happen tomorrow.
Here is a picture of my cat, Cora, who is free from the ravages of self-awareness and other crippling paradoxes. I think.
Live in fear of the end of your life, and find freedom in that.