Sometimes at night, when my fleeting mind hits my pillow and I prepare for the welcomed relief of a restful sleep, I wonder what it’s like to die. When the sun rises and birds start chirping outside my window, and I awake sometimes rested, sometimes not, there are moments when my dreams linger on, and I can still remember some crazy adventure, an embarrassing moment or the incredible sex I’d dreamt about the night before. Other times, I reflect on the nothingness, the peace of mind I found when I was deeply and totally asleep. That, I wonder, is what death itself must be like: a deep and empty nothingness, though without the benefit of a morning after to reflect. I find my busy, bustling mind has difficultly with this concept. After all, how can non-existence exist? But then again, how did I experience the world before I was born?
When I was younger I used to pray at night. I’d pray for myself. I’d pray for others, for the peace of the world, and the betterment of all things. Now, I’ve grown older, and the prayers have mostly stopped. I’m not sure, who or what God is, if God is, or why we’re here at all. It may be that we’re alive only for a short while and then we’re gone, just gone, into that quiet, peaceful nothingness we all experienced before we were alive.
This I believe: I believe that life is worth living, really living while we’re here to experience it. If death is a complete lack of consciousness, then all we’ll ever have to experience in our entire history is what we have today, right now. The flavors of food, the kind embrace of someone you love who loves you deeply back, the smell of bacon frying, it’s only in this moment. Even our lives, the mark we leave on the world, save for the very fortunate few, may one day be completely errased by the eroding forces of history. How many artists, great thinkers and scientists, influential leaders and spiritual healers have been completely lost to time? Shakespeare, Benjamin Franklin, Gandhi and Martin Luther King, Jr.: these are the names we know. How many others, how many billions of others are completely and forever gone?
As I write this, I am not rich. And I am not famous or powerful. Perhaps one day I will enjoy these luxuries. But for now I’m just an ordinary person, with hopes and aspirations, and great dreams of things I wish to accomplish. But I believe that my success or failure as a human being is not in whether or not I ever achieve these goals. Even those people at the pinnacle of success, who’ve amassed unimaginable wealth and power face the same quiet fate at the end of all their days. I believe my success is measured in the happiness I find and experience every single day, and in the joy and love, I can bring to others.
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