Thursday 5 March 2009

The Shadow of Mortality

I guess we have always been aware of it.
Long before we learned to speak, it troubled us.

And once we learned to express our thoughts to eachother, we expressed our troubled thoughts about the one thing that none of us, ever, could ever comprehend.
How could we?

It is the one thing we will never know, never. No matter how advanced our state of knowledge gets.

We know what we see and we can try conceptualise it. When people die painfully, we imagine the pain. When people die peacefully, we imagine them drifting off to sleep.
We can comprehend it to the degree we can understand the bits of the experience that must relate to living processes. We can understand the path to death.

But we can never understand death itself. Conscious one instant, then no more.

That someone is- gone. We can't even bring ourselves to be honest about it. They haven't gone anywhere. They haven't gone. They're dead.

Which is why we have to have to keep them with little memorials so we can carry on talking to them until we can finally accept they are never going to answer us. We want to kid ourselves they are still listening, somehow, somewhere. Because we just don't get it.

How can people who were with us not BE? People can go somewhere else and not be in our presence, sure, but just not BE? As in not be anywhere?

It troubles us. It always has and it always will.

How can the day come when WE will not be? It doesn't make sense. We have ALWAYS been here. Well, we know we haven't because people talk of a world that existed before we were here, but what does that matter, we never knew such a world. It's not quite as real as the one we remember. If it didn't happen when we were alive, it's not real. Sure, we can accept that our parents lived in a world in which we were not, but how can THIS world, OUR world, how can that go on without us? Surely it only exists because we exist and if we die, surely it does too?

How we can we die? If we were real, we couldn't die. It surely cannot be that one die our thoughts will stop and we'll just think no more.

What a deadline. It's not like knowing you only have half an hour left with a loved one. It's not something that will end and then you can look back on, treasure the memories.
It's that thought, knowing you are going to stop thinking any minute now, so if you have got something to think about, might as well do it now. If there was anything you wanted to do in life that you haven't done, it's too late now.
But that you aren't going to look back, in a few minutes there won't even be the memories. Even your regrets will mean nothing. It's knowing that you only have a few minutes left to think, so you might as well make the most of it, but if you don't, there won't be a you to regret that you didn't.

We don't want to think about it, because we know we will be scared. And yet we don't know what we're scared of. It won't be the scared of facing something ahead, it will be the scared of knowing that there is nothing left to face, that finally we have to face the fact that in a matter of minutes something will have happened that we still can't comprehend and that will scare us. How can we understand what no experience can prepare us for, a world in which we are NOT?

It is finally realising that we are about to die and once we have, it is STILL the only thing that we will never know what it is like.

Because the instant the thoughts stop, is the one thing we will never remember.

It hangs like a shadow over humanity. That no matter how far we get, one thing we will never know.

What it's like to die.


Anonymous said...


I believe in an afterlife. That gives me comfort.

Judith said...

I try not to waste too much time fretting over my mortality; rather I focus on the here and now and the things I do have power over.

I left you an award on my blog.

Sue said...

The thought doesn't bother me really. I won't be aware, so it won't matter! It's not like I'll be trapped somewhere is it?

Reeny's Ramblin' said...

What?! We die? Not I, for I am a vampire ;)