This I Believe

Megan - Gainesville, Florida
Entered on March 31, 2007

What happens when you die?

Is death a bottomless pit, waiting for an unsuspecting passerby to stumble into its abyss? Or is it merely a trick of light and shadow, drawing ever-nearer until we discover that it wasn’t what we had expected? Some put their fate in the hands of an idealistic deity in hopes that they will be rewarded with eternal paradise. Others believe that the soul is reborn into a cycle of natural and spiritual harmony. With so many options and possibilities, what was I supposed to believe? What system could I build my life around?

Math is my niche. I like that you can always find an exact answer without worrying about the interference of opinions. Math teaches you that a statement can be proven true by disproving the opposite, or it can be proven false by providing a counterexample. In this way, religion had always troubled me. The presence of God can be neither proven nor disproved. I solved this dilemma by taking into account that there are an infinite number of theories that aren’t verifiable. For example, if I choose to believe that the universe is controlled by a purple-spotted platypus on the planet Zorg, how can you prove me wrong? I am certain that such a being does not exist, but why should some 5000-year-old celestial entity be more highly thought of? After pondering the matter, I came to the conclusion that God does not exist. I still had to wonder, ‘If there is no God, is there an afterlife?’ But, after looking at alternatives and analyzing the probability, I decided that this, too, was not what I believed to be true.

Having arrived at these two decisions, I found that I had established the belief around which I could shape my life: Live life as if it was worth dieing for. This simple statement has changed the way I view the world. I embrace the fact that the time we have right now is the only time we have. I try to learn and achieve new things every day, because I feel that life is too short for valuable opportunities for experience to be wasted. I have taken various instrumental, athletic, and academic classes in an attempt to enrich my life as much as possible. I am also easily amused, and I find limitless pleasure in the casual mediocrity of everyday life. I laugh frequently and without restriction at common, day-to-day antics as a celebration of life’s frivolity.

Believing that life should be lived completely has made me more daring. I try new things whenever an opportunity arises, and I act with less hesitation. I have thrown myself into unfamiliar activities such as tennis, Capoeira, the Brazilian martial art, and American Sign Language on mere whims or impulses in hopes of making my life more worthwhile. Also, without rules of religion to restrain me, I am free to make my own decisions, and in turn, make my own mistakes.

The undeniable truth is that we can never know what actually happens when we die. Maybe there really is a heaven. Maybe there really is a God. Either way, I have decided to prepare for the worst. I have decided that if death is life’s only successor, I must make my life worthy of such a conclusive end. As the Roman philosopher, Cicero, once said, “The life given us by nature is short, but the memory of a life well spent is eternal.”