What if life isn’t a linear pathway to death?
Most of us non god fearing folk imagine ourselves on a line, from A – B, birth to death.
In the depths of the night, sleepless notions draw in and out like the tide, frothing up all the man made crap people throw away. I think about the origins of religion, as proposed by many, including myself – searching in the darkness for answers, ever absent, to questions of what and why. Dancing on the surface of those vast troubling oceans of unknown are the reflection of stars, tiny twinkling abstractions shimmer – bright ideas? The wind howls. Transient introspections whistling wistfully beneath the full moon. The hours tick by, as I’m pushed “forward”, toward my final wakeful breath. I give my customary offerings to the immortal beasts of worry and dread, perched as gargoyles on the walls of my castle – I ruminate on life and death.
There’s really nothing scary about death, I thought – I try to convince myself – not about actual death, it’s knowing all the wonderful things we leave behind which terrifies us humans. If death was for 1000 years and we could come back for a single day, we’d probably be excited – overwhelmed – there would be something to look forward to. What would have changed? How thrilling – one last dance. One monumental day. How beautiful would that day be…?
Plus, we could work up to the final nail, incrementally. Bit of breathing (or not breathing) space between – really, really, take it all in. Marvel at the inventions, perhaps, you would look up how your ancestors faired, or, spend the whole day smelling flowers.
We spend our lives looking forward to things, never quite grasping the present moment. What’s there to fear in death – an emotionless, painless void of nothingness?
It’ll be just like before you were born – and that wasn’t too bad.
As I lay there, I yearned for sleep, to free me from the thoughts of death, but what is sleep, but just a budget death impersonator – peaceful, painless, short and free, come grab yourself a bargain. We don’t fear sleep, we welcome it. Maybe, it is all by design. That’s probably why we get frail and sick in old age, so we can become tired of life and welcome some good shut eye.
If life is a linear line – what if there was a line for death too, but instead of running parallel, in the same direction, transferring us over to the other side, on our death, like two sides to a coin, what if it came at us in the opposite direction?
What if life and death were two lines, heading toward each other, two existences, that implode on contact, or, swallow each other up – like two snakes devouring one another? Your life exists in death by the merit that you lived, just as your death exists in life by the merit that you’re living. Light and dark. Yin and yang. Two inseparable complementary forces. The ultimate duality. Death gives life meaning, as life gives meaning to the empty space on either side.
We don’t really know what happens after we die… Heaven? Hell? Reincarnation? nothing?
With so much unknown in the universe, what makes us so sure of anything?
What if, when we died, we passed over into the next reality – where everything runs in reverse? The moment you die, you blink, and you’re back in your body, to start Benjamin Button-ing your way back to birth.
Everything that’s ever been, is to be looked forward to. It’ll be like pressing rewind on an old video player, you run it back, an inverted reality, but to you, it feels regular. You draw back your last breath from the room, as it inflates your lungs, you open your eyes, your family by your side, eyelids blinking like butterfly’s wings as they free themselves from the cocoon. Your senses spin like a broken washing machine – colours blurring – an illusion? You’re bewildered, utterly terrified, as the realisation you’ve just un-died slips out of the envelope.
Every word spoken, will become unspoken, swallowed back into the darkness, every blot of ink, written or typed, drawn back into the instrument of their maker. You inhale deeply – once more – you lungs accept it gratefully. Backwards or forward, breath is constant, unchanged.
As you gradually start to feel better, your family takes you home, your bed has never felt so cosy or well received, a smile creeps across your face. You skin tightens, your joints ease, day by day, the twinkle in your eye reappears as luminescent glow reflected in the mirror. You celebrate a son or daughters 40th birthday again (granting you had children – if not, roll with it anyway), grandchildren playing in your lap. You start to look forward to your 40th birthday. People who have passed away, reappear in your life. You welcome your parents back, one by one. Your heart swells.
Calendar days un-tick, years fly back, not fall away – everything feels whole, for brief moments. Under the surface, always, creeping, is the knowledge, precise, to the day, that people disappear. Your grandchildren are the first to go. It hurts. You hold out for the day your child/ren move back in, as happiness echos on the walls of the house once more. Your precious children become more and more dependent, with each day, until, poof, they’re gone too. Your life partner, suddenly walks out the door backwards, never to return. You mourn every loss with deepest of heartbreaks, every unfolding note in your life, becomes so much more painful as you count them down. First hellos are grieved as final goodbyes.
Wisdom drifts away. You start thinking your shit doesn’t stink again. Naivety creeps in. You pack you bags, turf them out onto the floor of your adolescent bedroom. Long loved band posters rehung on walls.
Independence slips away. You become unsure of yourself. You’re still getting your kicks, all the same. Fuck it. Have some fun. Your mind, day by day, abates. Before long, seemingly innate knowledge begins to hide. Faces obscure in your memory… you begin to wonder if there ever was a time you missed the taste of coffee, or the warmth of your loved ones breath on the back of your neck on a lazy Sunday morning. You take joy in the simplest of things. You begin to skip instead of walk, your coordination deteriorates, as you need to crawl instead of toddle. Everything you’ve ever known, falls away, until you’re helpless, and any “sentience” is all but a sound in the room, incomprehensible. Then, poof.
What if the lines of life and death, looped round to meet again, like the infinity symbol? Constantly overlapping in the centre.
I don’t know which would be scarier – not knowing what’s to come, or knowing.
What if existence, as we know it, is spherical, a never ending cycle, swirling, like a vortex, and the end of our universe is actually the beginning of it.
There’s so much in the universe that we don’t understand, how and why. We don’t really understand time. Albert Einstein’s theory of special relativity stipulates that time will slow down or speed up depending on how fast you move relative to something else – if you travel fast enough, your relative velocity will create a time dilation. Time dilations are evidenced in time slowing down in space, so strictly speaking, astronauts on the International Space Station come back a few milliseconds younger than they would have aged, had they have remained on Earth.
There’s quantum physics that make my eyes water reading, as my head threatens to implode like the centre of a black hole.
Black holes are one of those things which offer more questions than answers, but we do know that they warp the fabric of spacetime. As you approach, time slows down, until you reach the event horizon – where the stretching of spacetime is so powerful that – who really knows?
Spaghettification. Yes, that’s a real thing. Not as appetising as it first sounds.
What can be confirmed, in all the great unknown – is that there are forces at work in the universe that most can barely comprehend, and there is no idea too outlandish, that can show it up.
Maybe, space, is finite. Our universe has been growing since the Big Bang. Maybe, our universe grows so big, so dense, that it starts to implode on itself. Maybe, at the centre of that implosion, is the start of the universe itself.
Maybe… life and death is a circle and one day we’ll be back.
Maybe… all this sounded more profound in my head at 2am…?
The things we humans think about before we slip away…
Words by © Darius the Mate
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