As I write this, the sound of karaoke wafts through the windows like an unwanted solicitation. It’s Christmas Day, and a long weekend besides – people have every intention to drink and sing themselves into a stupor before the next week rolls around. To be honest, I didn’t think I’d be sitting here, writing about mortality and the realizations it brings. But I am.
The storm is coming.
2016 has seen quite a fair bit of upheaval, but it’s hardly the first to do so, or the worst. Some people certainly feel that it’s one of the most death-laden ones yet. It’s not unremarkable. Between the gallery of famous people who have died , the casualties of the different wars (in Syria, the Philippines, among others), and the victims of terror attacks at home and abroad, the end of all things as we know it seems to be right around the corner.
But it’s always been there. We’ve always know about our mortality. People just don’t want to look it in the eye and say hello to it.
There’s a law by a dude named Murphy. What can go wrong will go wrong, as the saying goes. When you throw human nature, emotional swings and our inherent habit of slipping into selfish, survival-oriented behavior when we think our backs are against the wall, one cannot help but have a degree of cynicism when things explode. Ideally, people would stop attempting to climb the tower of fulfillment while using other people as stepping stones. But the reality is different. People will use others as stepping stones if they can get away with it. While we are born compassionate, a lifetime of exposure to apathy and selfishness tends to burn us out until we become drones ourselves. And then the cycle repeats itself.
It doesn’t help that time marches on, with or without us. A cold, heartless construct of man to comprehend the passage of seasons, time has no heart nor emotion for those caught in its wake. It moves forward in its slow, crushing, Saturnian fashion, and if you’re caught in its wake … well, it was nice knowing you. We don’t want to consider that we are mortal beings living mayfly lives. Far easier to forget that cells are preprogrammed to die, that entropy inexorably moves of its own accord. It certainly helps maintain the illusion that we are the center of the universe, and that our word is the only law that it needs.
But death will not be denied, and in the end all things that are born must die. How else, then, are we to clear the old to make way for the new? Must we forstall mortality out of our fear of the abyss, damning the future to a static, unyielding state?