Thursday, April 23, 2009

One death, on the rocks, with olives please.

Last night at work, my friend/co-worker randomly brought up the subject of death. Out of no where he asks me, "Do you ever think about what happens when you die?" I only responded with a look, before he said, "I used to never think about it, but now I think about it a lot. You probably don't." I told him that I actually think about it all the time (He never read any of my plays to know this), and that when I was five if you asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up, I said, "a grave-digger." As a child I had envisioned myself shoveling dirt to make a six foot deep hole. That was my dream. Now the thought of such physical labor disgusts me, I'd rather die than do that.

I couldn't tell you why, at five, that was what I wanted to do. Cemeteries always fascinated me, especially the really old ones from the 1700's. Thinking about how there were tons of decaying bodies underneath the ground; that all those tombstones represented a life once lead. I suppose growing up in an Atheist household also aided in my literally morbid curiousity. I never heard my parents say, "Uncle Joe is in Heaven now," when someone died. They simply weren't at the table anymore for Christmas and Easter. And that's what old people did anyway, die. So when my friend asked me what I thought happens when you die, I couldn't give the simple answer of, "If you're good you go to Heaven, and if you're bad you go to Hell." Thanks Mom and Dad for letting me decide what my own fate could be, as opposed to what some work of fiction says it should be.

I'm not going to sit here and type out what I think happens when we die. My hypotheses range from we simply cease to exist to other planes of existence. I find it hard to believe that we are the only living things out there. If that ends up being the case, then what a waste of time. My roommate always says that he thinks we're all already dead, and that life itself is purgatory. That whatever we did in past existences led us to this place...and that he hopes beyond hope there's no such thing as reincarnation. I wouldn't necessarily mind reincarnation, but then it's the same thing all over again, even if you come back as a cat, you're still waiting to die.

I've talked about this with friends numerous times, who hasn't? Such discussions usually involves alcohol, psuedo-epiphanies, and a lot of arm flailing. But every discussion goes around in a circle. Each statement contradicts the last. I wonder if everyone thinks about death as much as I do. How could you not? Yet I guess people don't, because when you think about all the idiotic things people care about, and place importance on, it's just not possible. If life is so short, then who cares about designers bags and money and treating you waitress like shit, etc? How did it start that this is what shows your worth, this is what matters? Why are there wars? Why do people kill other people!? Whatever happened to seizing the day and all those quotes people put in their profiles about living life to the fullest and to tell people that you love them, you have nothing to lose. No one follows those. I hate it, because I try to think that way but it's difficult when no one else does. The idea that I could die tomorrow and have nothing to show for it terrifies me.

I thought it was somewhat amusing that we started discussing this while waiting for our mojitos to be made. Maybe that's why I'm always thinking about death, because between living in the city and waiting tables I'm constantly surrounded by humanity and how miserable it truly is. I guess I can only hope that whatever happens when we die is better than life, or is at least a means to an end, and that everyone can try to be as happy as possible while we all are still here.

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