Before I was conceived there was a period of time, stretching back to the beginning of time itself, during which I did not exist.
From the day I die there will be a period of time, stretching forward to the end of time itself, during which I will not exist.
My life is an infinitesimal span of of time sandwiched between aeons of non-existence. The time after I have died should be no more concerning to me than than the time before I was born, but in fact I often find my thoughts turning depressively to the subject of my inevitable demise and the sobering thought that, eventually, I will cease to exist.
I know when I was born and my past holds few secrets. I have lived through the stages of life prior to adulthood and overall I am almost halfway through my life. While it may contain regrets, my past contains nothing to fear.
The future, on the other hand, is unknowable. I can paint broad pictures in my mind of the most likely possible futures, but I can never know what will happen with the certainty I know what has happened.
However, I know that even if things go as well as I could expect, over the next 30 to 40 years I have a slow deterioration of my physical and mental condition to look forward to in the years running up to my death.
And then there is death itself. While I fear the abstract idea of death and non-existence, or rather regret that it will one day occur, I fear the actual circumstances of death more. What must it be like on that final day to feel everything closing down, to know that non-existence waits just around the corner, beckoning?
Since my father died in August last year I have found myself mulling over the concept of mortality more than I ever have in the past. I think there’s something about the death of a parent that really brings the concept of mortality home to roost. Most of all my mind keeps returning to the hour of his death: What did he feel? Was it quick? Did he have a chance to think about his regrets? Did he know it was coming?
I hate the way that my mind keeps drifting back along this trajectory when I’m not occupying myself with something constructive, though in truth it doesn’t happen so often now as it did a few months ago. I know that dwelling on such negative thoughts is only likely to depress me and make the brief NOW I’ve got less enjoyable, but I find it difficult to stop myself from going there.
It’s at times like this I most fully understand the urge to religion, and the reason why I myself was Christian for so many years. It would be so nice to believe the fantasy that I will continue on in another form after my body dies, and that old age and infirmity is a temporary state that ushers in a new era of immortality and vigour.
Undoubtedly the answer is to focus on the here and now and to do everything I can to enjoy life. I should deal with the things that make me miserable and focus on positive pursuits. I should sweep away concerns about the future and mortality by living in the present, whilst still preparing a legacy for myself in the minds of my family and friends that will outlast me when I’m gone.
I understand all of that, but… it’s really difficult. It’s easier to read a book, or play a game, or find something else to keep my mind occupied and positive during the short periods between finishing work and going to bed. It’s easier to apathetically continue in a job that doesn’t satisfy me than to try and shake things up and risk uncertainty; easier to plod slowly through life without really living.
I suppose what I’m saying is that I feel apathetic and unmotivated. I know what I should do, I just can’t make myself actually do it.
That’s how I feel for now. Perhaps my mood will improve when the summer is over and my social calendar is full again.
If you’re still with me, thanks for reading.