I don’t know if it’s the truth that I’ve undergone a number of huge life modifications previously few years (popping out as homosexual, getting divorced, separating myself from the faith I grew up with, transferring, pandemic … yeesh) or if I’m simply attending to the age the place my mortality is beginning to really feel extra imminent, however currently I appear to be ensnared in an ongoing low-key existential disaster.
Here’s how my ideas are likely to go: Someday I’m going to die. Fine. Everyone dies. Death is part of life — I can deal with this concept. But what about my consciousness? What will occur to my consciousness after I die? The concept of my consciousness now not present because it does now, or not present in any respect, is terrifying to me.
The common consensus about human character is that our ideas outline who we’re. So … what occurs when our ideas stop to exist or change a lot they now not resemble the individual we at present consider ourselves to be? Are we nonetheless ourselves, or are we similar to … gone?
How is it that we will be conscious and self-conscious in a single second and within the subsequent second merely not exist? Is it a contented byproduct that I might be unable to really feel devastation, or something in any respect, over my extinguished existence, as a result of I gained’t be round to be unhappy about it? I don’t discover this comforting.
I take into consideration this stuff whereas washing the dishes, folding laundry, strolling the canine, driving to physician’s appointments. My ideas scamper down a rabbit gap till I arrive at a close to nihilist state — if we’re simply an ephemeral blip of consciousness caught to a tiny rock floating round an insignificant star, what’s the level of caring about something? Does something really matter? If nothing is everlasting, what’s the level of something?
Even for those who subscribe to religious or spiritual concepts about an afterlife, it’s secure to imagine that no matter type your consciousness takes after dying might be dramatically completely different out of your present state. Everything that makes you you could have shifted. So most of the issues into which you at present make investments thought and vitality (house decor? Your skincare routine? Organizing your pantry? Conflicts at work?), when offered with an entire understanding of the vastness of the cosmos and the infinite nature of time, is likely to be rendered irrelevant. Even for those who go to Heaven, you’re not going to go to Heaven as you.
But then … if nothing is everlasting and nothing issues and all we get is that this little blip of time to expertise self-awareness, then perhaps something that feels prefer it issues, and the truth that emotions exist in any respect, is a miracle.
Consciousness is a miracle it doesn’t matter what you consider in regards to the inception of consciousness. It’s a miracle whether or not you consider we acquired right here by an opportunity collision of particles that interacted to create biochemistry that ultimately advanced till we turned cognizant of our personal existence, and it’s a miracle for those who consider in clever design — that one other being merely created us this fashion. Think in regards to the million different lifeforms on this planet who lack the power to acknowledge their reflection in a mirror or ponder their very own mortality. Truly, it’s a miracle.
I’m particularly scared of shedding my consciousness because it pertains to family members. I got here out as homosexual close to forty. I spent a lot time not realizing who I used to be. Now I do know, and I’ve discovered this one who I really like greater than I believed it could possibly be doable for one human to like one other, and it’s so late. Half my life is already gone! My companion lives 1,400 miles away, and what if I die earlier than I get to have a life with them? Even if we get a strong forty years collectively, what about after we die? And what about my children? Where will our love for one another go after we’re now not right here, alive? It’s terrifying to consider.
I should purchase that vitality transforms, however I additionally know that my consciousness and all of the ideas in my head, together with my love for my companion and my kids, are a results of chemical reactions taking place in my mind.
What occurs after I now not have a mind?? It terrifies me that every one the love I really feel, the connections I’ve made in life, will probably simply … disappear after I die. I perceive why folks cling to faith. It’s comforting to consider that while you die, your consciousness and the consciousness of your family members gained’t be snuffed out, however will merely be barely remodeled. In that case, dying will be seen virtually as a reunion. I might like to consider that is how issues are, however I simply don’t. To say I did could be to misinform myself in an try to flee my worry of my very own mortality.
When I google “existential crisis” I get outcomes from healthcare or wellness websites that correlate these sorts of ideas to psychological sicknesses like nervousness and melancholy. I can see how these fears might turn out to be all-consuming, however for me it’s not one thing I need to push away or ignore. For me, it’s extra like this large elephant within the room that I’m form of shocked we’re not always speaking about. It would put so many issues into perspective if we could possibly be cognizant of the preciousness of being alive whereas we’re nonetheless alive. When framed the best approach, existential crises can yield gratitude and empathy towards others.
My ongoing existential disaster doesn’t devour my each waking second, however when it does rear as much as overwhelm me with terror of my very own impermanence, I attempt to channel it into specializing in the miracle of being alive — even when solely to perform mundane chores like folding laundry or shopping for groceries. After all, if I consider consciousness is a miracle, it will make sense to not waste an excessive amount of time on nervousness over how lengthy I get to have it.
So, most days when I’ve these ideas, I arrive at gratitude that I’ve consciousness, coupled with a dedication to not waste it. Right after I end doing my taxes.