What is left to me? Having turned 65 I have to be realistic. My mom died at 76, my father at 80. So by all accounts I have some hope of landing in the middle. But then I have done all the things baby boomers do to stave off the inevitable and have gone to great extremes to defy gravity, the pursing of skin, the drooping of muscle. I took up cycling about 10 years ago. Mostly because I was sick of buying bigger pants with each passing season. That and harboring a fear that I’d get fat like guys who love beer generally do. An old friend once told me, yeah, after 35 you put on a pound a year and then you die. I didn’t weigh myself at 35. Maybe it’s buried in the medical records the insurance companies are using as I write to screw me out of benefits. I have a light frame and my BMI is iffy, but no one who knows me would call me overweight. But insurance companies don’t give much credence to how you look. They have charts and calculations, all designed to chart ways to screw you. Luckily I’m on Medicare so their best efforts to screw me and take my money will be somewhat limited.
We all approach our end times differently and alike in our own ways. An atheist by discernment, I have no hope of an afterlife. Not that I wouldn’t want one but the ones I’m familiar with are either too vague to be desired or too boring to be endured. Eternal happiness seems on the surface a great thing, but hey, it’s our nature to get bored with repetition. And praying forever is as close to having a stick in my eye for eternity as I can imagine. The other thing I wonder about is the prospect of experiencing the world without a body. Not that I love my body, but it’s all I’ve got. It’s gotten used to eating and drinking and sweating and shaving and bathing and seeing and hearing and touching. These are all things that having a body makes possible. Of course, having a body also makes it possible to get burned or develop stage 4 cancer or starve or get poison ivy. It’s the trade-off that comes with being a human being. Life without a body would be something else altogether. It might be freaking awesome. But it might be a bad acid trip, too. Who’s to say? I am (or was) close to several souls who have passed to the other side. My mom, some close friends, my only brother. None of them have contacted me about what awaits at the next station. I sort of think that they’d try to let me know about what I might do while alive to make my time in the great hereafter happier, or at least less horrifying. But like most of us who aren’t talking with any regularity with the dead, I haven’t heard from any of them.
The fear of oblivion drives a great deal of belief I’m sure. But for me, oblivion is a return to where I was before I arrived — before I was suited up with DNA and muscle and bone and fiber. I have no more fear of where I am going than of where I once was. So, what keeps you from being a wicked soul who would rape, pillage, and murder, you ask? A fair question I suppose. But it belies the simple human understanding that most of us wish to be treated as we would be treated. With kindness. With sympathy. With compassion. These aren’t hard things to understand. And you can sew them into all sorts of religious dictates as your religion requires. But in the end, we wish to be treated as we would have others treat us. And for the aberrant souls, the sociopaths with damaged lives and sickly DNA sequences, they will always be among us. Life is not fair but random. Life is all we have. The unfolding mystery of being stretches out before us. What we make of our time is ours to shape and own and accept or reject as our souls require.
©2017 John Hofmeister
When I'm not writing for clients, I write about things that interest me.