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Why Do We Act Like We'll Live Forever?

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When you surf the media, the top ten readership list is usually about how wonderful it is when you are aging or how to perform the ten minutes exercise to live a few healthy years longer. Another "feel good" popular topic runs like "You have one life, so learn how to make the best of it."

Seriously, is that what we want to hear? The ostrich syndrome; refusing to face the truth that we are going to die one day and trillions of years will go by without us. "Let's do anything to delay the scary inevitable" is really what lies in the subconscious whenever we say "pursue all your dreams in this one and only life."

Well what if we can't? The truth is most of us cannot achieve a majority of our dreams and just when we think we did, we realize that there's still something hollow and unfulfilling within our inner selves. We are fed constantly with an unrealistic philosophy of optimism; one of the many defensive strategies conjured to fill the void created in one's inner self. The notion that life is auspicious and alluring has to be embedded into our minds in order to deflect and distract us from the epilogue.

I was dining with a friend the other day. He was talking about his best friend who died some years ago at the age of fifty. "The fool" he said of him. Not with malice of course but with a weird kind of affection. "He didn't listen to me when I told him he shouldn't get a divorce. That ruined his life which was the probable cause of his death at an early age."

I asked my friend what difference it would make if he made it to a hundred. My friend sat upright in a surprised manner not expecting such a question. He probably thought it was a dumb one. I told him that if you are not eternal, what's the difference a few years more or less? "A speck of dust in this grand cosmos is how long we live" I told him. "And then eternity will march on without us."

The truth dawned upon me some time ago, not as if I stumbled on a stunning discovery, but it came gradually, after years of reading books and articles on what religion, history, philosophy and science has to offer about the definition and meaning of life. The conclusion I arrived upon even surprised me since I had always thought I possessed a logic seeking scientific mind, looking at everything through the lens of an "intellectual."

"Surely life must have a further meaning to it than just living some mere decades" I thought. I started to refuse to believe the notion that life abruptly ends. "Birth has meaning and life has meaning, so absolute death does not make any sense." At the moment of birth, if we had the ability to express ourselves, wouldn't we have described this passage onto this new environment as "dying?"

There must be some kind of existence beyond. Life as we know is actually a short period of transition in a vast and endless journey. I'm not necessarily talking about religion or God. I'm specifically talking about afterlife; living in an unknown dimension but with memories intact. Retaining the ability to meet and converse with my loved ones; preserving my identity in whatever form or shape.

Having said all, I also have an interesting observation which I want to share. My friends and family who believe in some form of afterlife (call it soul or whichever description comes to your mind), have a calmer and happier state of mind than those who don't. I'm talking about the genuine believers. Most of them somehow realize instinctively, that clinging to worldly materialism, especially in excess, is a futile exercise because it really means nothing in such a short life span.

Furthermore, their anxieties concerning the future often seem to be less when compared to others. Don't get me wrong, they do hang on to life and pursue the best for themselves and their families but there is no exaggerated anxiety or awareness of the clock ticking.

Sounds hard to believe? Yes, I would know, however don't anticipate that I'm going to naively attempt to scientifically prove anything. It's really all about experience and instinct. The experience derives from reading a lot and reflection, followed by episodes of belief or doubt. And if it didn't feel right? Then the cycle needs to repeat until one finally sees the light. The mind triggers an impulse confirming that time has come to rest one's case and the strive for inner peace and knowledge has been finally accomplished.

In a chess game, the least significant pawn becomes the most powerful figure when it reaches the end of the board. Wouldn't it be rewarding if we could cast aside our worries about longevity and enjoy a full life? We should take comfort in the belief that we have nothing to be afraid of when that mysterious moment arrives. It may very well be that a new passage is being unlocked to lead us into another dimension.

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