Saturday, May 20, 2006

Hybrid Moments

It's been a strange few weeks here -- shockwaves from events in other's lives radiating outward, some making me glad for the relative calm in my life, others making me wonder if I've fallen too deeply into a rut. The weather is often ominous, switching from sunny and pleasant to overcast to torrential rain in fractions of hours. Headaches and bad dreams are frequent. There's a psychic shrapnel in the Atlanta air this May.

Overshadowing everything -- the sudden passing of a co-worker. It's shocked everyone and hung over everything for the past two weeks.

I have mercifully little experience with death. People in my life have died -- at age 33, if they hadn't, it would be quite a statistical anomaly. But those have either been the end result of a long debilitating illness, or someone I hadn't seen in years.

In this case, I wasn't close to the person, but I'd seen her several times a week for more than five years now. It leaves a void I would not have predicted.

And it reopens an age-old question -- what next? It's times like this that I feel my absence of a real faith -- one way or the other -- most keenly.

Of my two closest friends here in Atlanta, one is a devout Christian -- and she knows there is an afterlife. The other a staunch atheist -- and he knows there isn't an afterlife. Me? I waver between agnostic and what the personals euphemistically call "spiritual but not religious," and I don't know anything.

It's a terrifying emptiness of knowledge, this blank space on the map. It's less of a concern as it directly affects me -- when I die, I'll find out.

But those around me, there one day and gone the next, what is left? Scattering atoms or a transformed soul?


Anonymous said...

I couldn't sleep.

Look at it this way, if there were a kind, just, all-powerful being wouldn't it grant benevolent animals the gift of everlasting life? Why the hell would we get it above other animals? We're the biggest shitheads on earth; we'd be the last creatures to earn a spot up there behind those pearly gates.

Religions exist because of the collective human ego -- our need to feel superior to those beasts of burden -- and the fear of death. Religions give a society an illusion of order, but they've always really just been a way for a small group of people to control a larger group, generally through fear and/or intimidation.

Sure, it's nice to believe that people we love will exist forever. It's nicer yet to appreciate the people we love while they're here. If we believe in an afterlife, then we believe we'll have a chance to make amends for things we did or didn't do that we should have or shouldn't have done. But if we believe we're all dust in the end then we try to do the right thing in the first place. No crutch.

Besides, I like being an animal; it gives me an excuse for my unceasing desire to thrust my nose into the crook of the neck of the nearest wildly handsome man.

Your best shot at immortality, buddy boy, in my opinion, is to write that book that you should be writing. ;)
Okay, I'm really going to bed now.

gsdgsd13 said...

Well, I'm not really worried about my immortality -- I'm fairly certain that I ascend Mount Olympus on death, where (if my understanding of Greek myth is correct) it's beer and hookers throughout eternity. It's all you schlubs I'm worried about.

That said, an afterlife would be pretty handy for my goal of eventually finishing reading "Mason & Dixon."

(apologies for the serious subject -- it had been weighing on my mind for the past couple weeks. It's back to explaining that the Detroit Red Wings are all dicks soon.)

Anonymous said...

Oh, shit, I forgot, I made you a demigod at some point, didn't I? What was I thinking...

But don't you think immortality is a normal human desire? I think it is. And when it comes down to it, the only really sensible way to do it is to have kids and pass on the genetic material because that's really all that lasts more than a couple thousand years.

Don't apologize for the subject. Debating faith is fun! It gets people all nervous and they start looking alive, for a change. Besides, I liked that post of yours. It was less guy-ish than many.

Trust me, if I could find it somewhere within myself, I would be the first one to jump on the afterlife bandwagon. Hell, it's the only way I'd ever get on top of the laundry problem.


gsdgsd13 said...

I think some sort of continued existence is a universal desire, though not physical immortality. I was recently talking to a more science-oriented friend, who says it's widely believed that with various advances, within decades people will be living to 150 and beyond, with the bodies of much younger people.

That sounds -- and perhaps reality would be better -- kind of awful. Beyond the obvious problems with overpopulation, it would tend to blunt one's edge, I think. Without a real time limit on life, the push to pursue things would be less.

That said, sure, I still want Olympus.

Anonymous said...

Yeah, I think you're right about losing that fear of wasting time that makes us play hard and fast and do all we can fit in.

I don't think I'd want to spend as much time in a hospital as living to 150 will undoubtedly require. Besides, the only people who would be able to afford to live that long would probably be a bunch of insufferables... think future Donald Trumps and Richard Bransons.