Sitting on a bed in the still of a darkening room, knowing the fate that comes knocking on the door at any time, the terminal patient sees death approach with eyes wide and questions abound in mind. What does death hold for me? What is beyond the curtain, beyond the stage of life, beyond and into the unknown? Will I die and be reborn? Will I be taken to heaven or hell? Will I live in an ethereal realm of timeless space? Or will I simply cease to be, my atoms and molecules disintegrating as time and the earth eats away at my physical form?
No one can say for certain what awaits us all after this life has run its course, but the speculation is one that humanity has been asking itself since conscious thought could discern such a perplexing question. Death could be the end of everything, or it could be the birth of new understanding. It could be the release into the joining fabric of all things, when we can understand the complex questions we have been asking ourselves all our lives and feel the connection we all share. Unbound to a physical manifestation, it could be a sensation of being one with god, the universe, and everything in existence. Does purgatory wait for everyone or is there a different and unique realm in death’s release?
What if our beliefs are the creators of the existence we experience after this life comes to its inevitable conclusion? Perhaps if you believe in a heaven and hell, your spirit will be guided to a place that resembles what your inner self has envisioned. This may be a place of great palaces, winged angels, golden pathways, beautiful music, and the comfort of loved ones long lost. It might be a place of endless wilderness, astral animals at play, spirits fluttering about and taking shape as whatever their imagination wills them to be, and beautiful sunrises that eventually fade into sunsets that inspire serenity. In the infinite universe that we all reside in, there is more than enough room for many such kingdoms to exist. Every person could have a personal domain to exist in and help create.
Perhaps instead of an individual kingdom, you envision yourself being reborn to another physical form to experience the joy and sadness of life. Would you become a human once more, living a different life as a completely different person, a different race, sex, and moral upbringing? Or would you come back as the same person, trying to learn some lesson that you feel is essential to your soul’s growth and enrichment? How about being reborn as another species, enjoying a life in the wild, roaming the land as a leopard or perhaps a wolf? It could be even more exotic: be remade as another life form on some distant and unexplored planet, living a life unfathomable to human understanding. In the endless possibilities of the imagination, the creativity of what could be then becomes a choice for individuals to decide.
The idea of simply ceasing to be and fading away into nothingness is an idea that does not sit well in my view of life and death. It could be because I fear a permanent end to everything my soul has experienced, or it could be because I fear an end, plain and simple. It seems such a human construct, the need for an end, the need for a definitive answer to a question that may have none. Everything we construct is given a beginning and an end whether it is a tool, a life, even the creation of the universe. What if there is no beginning to the universe and it has always been and will always be? If there was no beginning to the universe, then time – a human construct to measure the distance of a lifespan – becomes immortal. The only thing that passes through the ages unscathed and never-ending would be time, marching on infinitely and without cease.
If there is no permanent end to our spirits, then our essence – the part of us that drives our physical forms – becomes immortal as well. Spirits would stand tall against the tests of time, would even surpass them as a spirit needs no such concept to confine it and place it within a tiny box of closed thinking. Infinity can be a rather scary thought if contemplated for too long. The human mind cannot perceive infinity, cannot define it due to its nature of going on forever. Many days when I was younger I would try and envision the vastness of space, imagining that it spanned on forever, stretching past the simplistic thoughts of mere mortals, reaching out to untold wonders that we may never experience in our short lives. These thoughts would make me feel rather small and scared, as if my very being were so insignificant in the cosmos and the endless stars. Yet I am here, living and experiencing and having these thoughts for a reason, even if I don’t understand the why.
Maybe that is the purpose of our lives on this planet. Maybe we are here to experience, however brief in the expanse of time, some personal meaning or revelation and sharing our existence with others that we draw into our lives. Meaning is individual and can only be understood and seen by the person seeking it and constructing it as they see fit. If we are the creators of our lives, of our surroundings, then the most important thing we can do while living is to search for new questions. It is my opinion that questions are the most important and fundamental meaning of life, not the answers. Anytime an answer is revealed in my life I search for a new question to explore, otherwise this life would become dull and unimaginative. If I find myself with all the answers then I am ready for death, ready to see what the afterlife has in store.