Accept Your Own Death



1. Don't be Surprised

Death is the norm: we come from nothing, we return to nothing; so non-existence is the rule, and existence is the exception. Death is not new: our feeling after death is quite the same before birth—we had been already dead for eons, without complaining.

Life is a temporary passing experience, preceded and followed by nothingness, a moment of wakefulness interrupting a long sleep. Its beauty is short by nature, and optional too, as we are free to take it or leave it. Life is always out there, receiving new visitors and bidding farewell to old ones: it goes on with or without us, whether we are alive or not. There will always be tomorrow, as there was always yesterday. Only when we take bodies we become conscious of time and life; when we leave the bodies, things go back to normal, to silence again.


2. Remember the Dead

The majority of people are already dead. When we die we belong to the majority of humanity: the billions who have died since the beginning of life; while now we only belong to a very small minority: the living. The dead always outnumber the living. No wonder we love history and sympathize with people who lived in the past, knowing that tomorrow we will join them and become another history page, and wishing that future people would remember us too.

What a great idea to reflect on, that we are all but a minority! Those who discriminate against their fellow humans should know that, they and those they persecute are only a tourist group in the same journey to Life, riding the same bus back and forth. If there were ever a chance for one to return to life again after death, one might choose to be with those whom he/she had shared the experience of life with. I would choose to live the life I had lived (in my case, in the 20th and 21st century), relishing and reliving it again and again, and wishing time to stop and never move forward. There I would find the people I knew and loved and shared memories with.

Yet, I know it's only a dream, for there isn't yet a time-traveling machine! We will all vanish like dust, and pass into oblivion, forever lost in the abyss of eternity.


3. Rehearse Death

Death is part of life we practice everyday. We already rehearse death partly and temporarily:

  • When parts of us die (organs, cells, ideas, habits, possessions, or humans) to give life/space to others.
  • When we and other animals live on minimal energy, e.g. by hibernation, for short or long times.
  • Each time we go to bed and give in to sleep, whether we will wake up again, or not.
  • Each time we calm down, turning temporarily apathetic toward our surroundings, and stopping all our thoughts, senses and feelings, as if we are dead.
  • When we stay still and "play dead" to avoid predators, dangers, stresses, urges ...
  • When we think of death:
    • reading history, about those who lived in the past, to whom we will eventually belong;
    • reading about the future, when we will no longer exist;
    • attending a funeral, visiting someone dying, losing a loved one, being with someone expecting death because of age, health or circumstance;
    • coming close to death ourselves, writing a will, preparing our funeral, and thinking of our end as if it already happened, in the past tense.


4. Meet Death while You are Happy

When we are happy we don't care much about death or anything else, because of the doping effect of pleasure: nothing is like pleasure to face death with. However painful, scary, sudden, unprepared for or just unknown that last moment is, pleasure is best to make it more bearable, casual and "naturally" pleasurable.

You can still choose to die in sorrow, at your expense, giving life a last sad/angry/scornful look. Or die hard, fighting death to the last. Or die in apathy, playing dead already ... Still, dying with pleasure, when available, is best. It takes many forms:

  • With loved ones around you.
  • In nature, where you came from and are going back to, naturally.
  • Alone, in self-satisfaction with the life you lived and achievements you made.
  • Working on something you love.
  • Using a handy source of pleasure, artificial or natural, to ease pain (pills, drugs; food, sex, music, laughter, good fantasies/memories, etc.), to avoid having a last bad impression of life, that pain unfairly tries to give you, which life as a whole does not deserve.

Even if you don't get to choose how to die, as death may take you by surprise, visualizing it in advance makes the surprise not so surprising, or priorly accepted if you die unconsciously (in sleep, coma, etc.).


5. Be Grateful

Remember the good times you had. Many people wish to live the life you have lived, or even part of it. Reminisce, like old people do (excessively sometimes), especially when what is left is less than or not as good as it was. Remember your "achievements" and how your existence made a difference in some people's lives. Remember the "changes" you were lucky enough to witness too: historical, technological, natural, social or personal, at different life stages. The longer you live, the more things you see, do and enjoy: knowledge, work & pleasure give meaning to life.

Good memories optimize life experience, virtually stretching our lifespan, as they are saved like snapshots in our Album of Memories, always available to pause, travel to and re-live, giving more intensity to present pleasures, spicing up a dull present, or counterbalancing a painful one. You can always see you there again:

A child with playmates chasing each other in the garden. A boy making a sandcastle on the beach in the face of a breaker. A girl collecting shells for the necklace she will give to her mother. A young man celebrating with his pals on graduation day. A bride with her girlfriends laughing before the wedding starts. A family sitting around table for Christmas dinner. An old lady telling her grandchildren stories she had heard from her grandmother ... etc.

Life can be filled with even more times like these; so when Death finally calls out our names, one can say: "It was a good life, thank you, goodbye."


6. Capture the Moment

The present is still yours, however. You are still alive, you are here, and you are now. You can maximize the quantity and quality of the present, however short it is.

As for its quantity, like a line segment that has infinite points, life has endless micro/nano/femto seconds and even smaller time units that we are yet to fill with pleasure. As for its quality, like the "main points" defining that segment, the quality of life is measured by its "main events," that our brain can only perceive and remember; all else doesn't count.

Time is only relative; we can turn few seconds into eternity, and eternity into few seconds by our choice. Living is measured by how one lives, not how long. Many a moment of happiness is worth millions of years.


7. Do Great Things

We are immortal by our actions that will survive us. We can't overcome death now, yet we can be eternal in the minds of others, by the consequence of what we do.

Sometimes, when you think you will die, and everyone who knew you will die too, you feel that your life is meaningless. It's not. Every living being leaves behind some effect in life before he/she/it ceases to exist: an effect that never fades, changing, taking different forms, but never fading. Every being is always here, now and forever. All particles in this vast universe are adjacent, affecting each other: we are omnipresent; each of us adds a different shade and color to the larger picture of life. We should make an art of our life, to make the picture perfect.

The movement of time is an illusion; it's we who are moving. Time is a whole, not parts; we only divide it for our convenience's sake. You can see your whole life before your eyes from birth to death in a second: while you're born, young, old, dead, mourned ... You can see the entire span of Existence and Time from beginning to end, that your life is only a moment of.


8. Forget about Immortality

Immortality can be challengingly boring, if we fail to fill it with pleasure. It's easier to fill a short life with pleasures than an eternal one. Short-lived experiences make people take life more seriously than long ones. Eternity can make people care less about having a purpose, because they will have ALL the time they need (Bye, see you after a million years—if you'll be still interested!). If we became immortal, we might not take life as passionately as we do now. Immortal people may have more problems with depression and boredom that they will have to solve. Some, then, may still choose to die and take their own life. We love life so much, oh yes so much, but may be those lucky immortals will not love it as we do.

If found, eternity is definitely better, although our short life is not too bad. But even then, immortality will never be absolute: the specter of death will always haunt us, dampening some of our future happiness, because we will never know everything to be certain we can conquer death permanently or not. Human life expectancy may reach millions of years, thanks to conquering aging, not death, because we may always die by accident. If some people become immortal, it's only because they never had any accident, but they are not immune from it. Accident, chance, and chaos will always rule. These are the only immortal entities.


9. Love Happiness more than Life

One should focus on enjoying life, not just living it. Living a meaningless life is quite equal to death; and living a miserable life is even worse than both. Thus, we should seek happiness, not life, the latter being automatically sought en route to happiness.

Life as such shouldn't be idolized, for even life itself dies, like all life forms. Life may end forever, or it can end and re-exist again, in a different place and time. All our thoughts, emotions, actions, achievements and legacy for future people may vanish, sucked in a black hole or destroyed by another explosion, killing all life forms, permanently, when chaos beats order.

There are many end-of-the-world scenarios scientists remind us of. They are so many and likely, that there is no need for apocalyptic scenarios by charlatans and pseudo-scientists. The reality is too shocking to seek naive fantasies along with. We ignore scientists' scenarios only to focus on life while we have it, not because they are unlikely. We are optimistic by nature; we remember the good more than the bad. Nature imprinted in us optimism as a survival strategy to get along with life, not because "the half-empty glass is not a half-empty glass."


10. Live Meaningfully, not just Happily

Happiness is just chemicals our body produces. It can be artificially manufactured, and so are many of our feelings. Enjoying ourselves, the ultimate goal of living, can be re-engineered, losing the meaning we respect life for, that it gets from the different pleasures we associate it with. Artificial pleasures, meaningful or not, will be more powerful, diverse, enduring and secure than all natural sources of pleasure we are familiar with now. If we return to life again, after a million years or so, we may find the thing we desired most, happiness, abundantly, effortlessly available, depriving life of much of its old meaning. We may find life itself different, with barely recognized life forms and surroundings, to feel any attachment or belonging to, or love returning to life for.

One should never stop pursuing pleasure, however; for this is exactly what future people, or even immortals, will be seeking too. Happiness will always be the main purpose of life millions of years from now, as it had been so millions of years ago. The ability to enjoy is what differentiates living beings from dead objects, until the former die and become objects too. Dead doesn't mean ugly, or still, for many beautiful things are dead: rivers, stars, sun, moon, spring ... and good dead people.

Finding happiness so commonplace a value, we needn't obsess much over it, nor totally hate pain which is good sometimes. We can add some ingredients to happiness, e.g. pain, work and knowledge, to make it more meaningful and beautiful. Beauty "suffers" sometimes.


11. Learn

This is our only chance to understand life and know what it's all about. Through knowledge we travel to the future, the past, and other places, we see life with other people's eyes, and we even imagine lives that never exist. Our mind makes up for all the lives our body can't live. Knowledge empowers happiness, deepening, prolonging, diversifying, and protecting it. It is our only hope for future survival: knowledge is the order we create to counteract the chaos we didn't, that is an intrinsic part of life. We can only delay chaos; we cannot beat it.

Seeking the truth will always be a worthy goal to live for, tempting us to follow it, like a butterfly toward light. Yet, we will never know everything, we will always be ignorant. We can only get closer to truth but never have it, constantly missing it, needing it, thus, loving it, because it has the answers to all our questions. Knowledge is the ultimate goal of living, as long as it's combined with pleasure and positive action. In the future, we may re-engineer our brains to release a high dose of endorphin during learning, more intoxicating than that we get from eating harmful sweets, having risky sex, socializing aimlessly, etc. We will always learn, from books or any other source, to stay alive and maximize our happiness.


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