“Stop whatever you’re doing for a moment and ask yourself: Am I afraid of death because I won’t be able to do this anymore?”
It’s an odd thing: to imagine Aurelius as he penned this thought, to know now that he would die later, to think that someone may read what I’m writing years after my eventual death, and wonder about me – or not wonder about me.
He poses a good question, though it does have one undeniable flaw: It assumes and insinuates that the reader is afraid of death. But I played the game, I asked myself the question. I thought about what I was doing prior: relaxing on the couch, enjoying a movie of high cinematic quality, indulging in a micro-brew, eating a delicious baked-chicken dinner.
I played the game knowing fully well the answer. This passage jumped out at me, but I’d already made up my mind on the answer to this question years ago. The answer is no. I am not afraid of never having this again. Because I’ve had a full life, I’ve experienced many different flavors, and after tasting much of what life has to offer, I’m happy to follow the path I’m on until it ends, and accept that end. I’ve had my turn on the rides and I’m happy to exit the fairgrounds when the security team thinks I’ve overstayed my welcome.
When I was younger, in my early teens, I was terrified of death. I couldn’t stand the thought of never being able to love someone intimately, or conquer my fears, or live in my own apartment, or go adventuring in a foreign country. Really I just wanted to know what it meant to be independent. And having already accomplished many of my goals – namely, being independent – I now feel that at no point did any single experience every make my life meaningful or fulfilled. I came to understand that for me, life is not about the this that makes one moment more enjoyable than another. This comes and this goes. Usually, money seems to play a part in how much of this is around at any given moment. But much like the this in life, I will also come and I will also go. Any impact I make in the sand will be carried away by the tide soon after. I am no more important than the chicken I ate earlier tonight.
So then – what matters? Well, as a matter of fact, I believe nothing really matters. But that doesn’t mean it doesn’t matter to us. And that’s the tricky part, isn’t it? Once I no longer cared whether I ever experienced a this again, I was able to accept the fact that despite whether it matters to me or doesn’t matter to me, the universe is going to continue on it’s path, and I’m going to continue on mine. And maybe I’ll live another day to experience another this. And it will probably be very enjoyable. Or maybe it won’t be. Either way, I’ll look forward to the next this that happens. And when this ends, I hope the next person in line enjoys it as much as I have.