I remember the first time I realized that I was not immortal. I couldn’t have been more than 10 years old. It was a strange revelation that didn’t really frighten me at the time, but somehow made me acutely aware of my existence. Everything looked brighter and more alive. I paid closer attention to my body and sentience. At the time, I didn’t have the words to describe what I was feeling, but as I look back on it, I remember my actions and can now put words to what I was feeling. I was awake.
In later years, still before I became a teenager, a tinge of fear creeped in. Greater realization surfaced and I knew that one day I would die. Twelve years old and I knew, with certainty, that I would one day not be here. I didn’t know what that truly meant at the time. The immediate feeling was that I would be gone, without memory, emotion, thoughts or words, a space of nothingness. Then the typical defense mechanism to ward off this fear was to attach myself to my family’s belief system, Christianity. I realized that this attachment was out of fear of being extinguished and fear of a thing no one really knew anything about.
Now, I have released myself from all afterlife belief systems created by religions. I claim no labels for how I believe. I simply live in the realm of possibility and let my mortality sink in, guiding me to a place of peace and acceptance of that which I know nothing about, death. I’ve learned that no matter what I believe, that belief won’t change what will be or what is. The truth of death lies beyond my beliefs and faith and ideas and notions. Whether I believe there is a god or no god won’t matter. Truth will be whatever it is. So I examine and accept all possibilities as they surface. Primarily, I ask the question, what if evolution and creation are both wrong? And the way in which we got here, in this place called Earth, is something beyond anything our human minds can imagine or conceptualize.
One thousand years ago, religious men, scientists and doctors were sure of this or that idea or theory about the world and the human body. A thousand years later people look at those men as ignorant and not having the resources or ability to understand the “truths” we’ve now discovered. A thousand years from now, a group of people will look back at us, shaking their heads and wondering why we were so ignorant and lacking knowledge of “truth” about the world and self. We sit in our moment in time and think we know because we have our gadgets and toys that tell us this or that, or we have our faith. Every age has its gadgets and toys, yet, new discoveries dismiss previous discoveries, or hone them, bringing clarity to what was once believed to be true.
In the end, we know very little about life and even less about death. I try to remain humble and make no claims about what is or might be, or even what isn’t. I don’t know and there is no way for me to know. Any “knowing” I claim is merely belief brought on by faith and fear. Faith and fear don’t define truth. Truth is what it is.
The other side of death truly is a mystery. No one can prove to anyone else what it will be. All claims are claims of faith or science of the current times (which could become science of the past in a thousand years). I’ve come to accept this and leave myself open to all possibilities, including those possibilities I have yet to imagine. I leave room for it all. Because when all is said and done, I might find myself at the other side of death and neither creation nor evolution will be standing there waiting for me as the answer. But something else, hopefully more beautiful than either.