You must consider each moment that you are alive as being a thing worthy of fresh observation. You don’t have to actively try to remember it. You weren’t engineered to remember everything.
You easily forget that your death awaits you around every corner. This is not to say that you should become a death seeker, or even a dangerous thrill seeker, but it is to say that time has never been on your side.
Time was not on your side when you were 20 and indifferent to the amount of booze you poured into your body, as well as how often you chose to drive afterward. You lived under the illusion that it was on your side, but it wasn’t back then, either.
The assault on your human organism begins with conception. Did your mom really want the pregnancy? Even if she did, was she putting herself in situations that made it doubtful she would bring you to term? Even if not, the outside assault from micro-organisms, pollution and stressful situations was taking place on your mom.
This is a world that does not want you to be here, and you never have completely come to accept that. Surely, you think, most people are either happy or indifferent to see me. Most of the civilized, sanitary, sane world that I live in cares more about keeping me alive than seeing me gone. Think again.
Most people, whether they are willing to admit it or not, have never evolved much past a tribal kind of mentality. They are willing to throw their lot in with their community or country as long and as far as it seems to give their family some protection, but if they had their say on running everything, they would let most everyone except their own family live in conditions where probability of survival is low.
Most people who become successful socially do so because they learn to mimic the tics and body language of people around them. It isn’t so much that those people are trying to manipulate others in a pathetic sort of way, but that they see genetic advantages in making those who have power see them as distant family members.
You had to go and short circuit this natural thing, and now you wonder why everyone who looks at you seems to hate your guts. You are different, you are weird, you aren’t family, you aren’t a member of the tribe.
But you aren’t so different that you will somehow manage to short circuit death. Death might find you this morning in the shower, or on the road, or during a late afternoon nap. Who’s going to argue with death? But, it’s not a cult of death I’m trying to get you to start, rather, a cult of life. If you lived somewhere where water was precious, would you worship the gods who bring you the scorching sun or the rain gods?
Time is precious and life is precious. These have never been more precious, and they certainly haven’t increased in abundance with the prosperity your civilization has obtained. Knowledge is hyper-abundant, you can know anything you want for free or next to nothing. If you are especially poor, you can walk down to the public library and sit at a computer all day long learning whatever you want to.
Wisdom is not so abundant. The wise are often trampled on because they rarely open their mouths, and when they do, it’s after giving their words much consideration–and, their words are often dismissed because the audience wants to have its information summed up in 140 characters or less.
When you were growing into adulthood, the fact that you had computer skills in a general way was nothing short of incredible to many adults. You were perceived by some as an utter prodigy. Now, an infant can master and command a tablet computer faster than you can. Does that mean that the next generation will be much more intelligent, or are they simply good at something that previous generations were not?
People have destroyed Time with their technology to the point where in the not so distant future they will be able to revisit anything that happened in their lives in HD. Already, they possess the great illusion that they will be immortal. To some degree, every crop of twentysomethings thinks they are immortal for a few, brief years, but this generation, so far removed from death (except the soldiers), believe that death can’t touch them. They look on those who have gotten gray hair with pity and contempt.
Most of them will watch with horror as their own stars fade and they are supplanted. Many of them have refused to have children for the simple reason that children would remind them of their own mortality. These twenty and thirtysomethings in urban areas across the U.S. and Europe actually believe that if they stay away from old people and people their age who had the misfortune of getting pregnant or fighting in a war, that they will stay forever young.
Of course, you will see the ones that accept their lot of aging and parenthood with a wink a grin, and decide that they are experiencing something novel. They will blog about fatherhood and aging with a tone that makes you think they invented these things themselves.
A lot of them are perpetuating a cult of death and they don’t even know it. For them, life is not worth living if it’s being lived as a parent or a senior. They embrace activities that will surely shorten their lifespans or kill them within a few years. They unconsciously relish death because death will take them when they are young, and perhaps a few who aren’t complete atheists imagine that they will quickly be reborn again to Western mothers who can rapidly bring them back into the golden age of their teens and twenties.