Tuesday, 13 April 2010

Sign of the Times: Eternity

Yesterday's church sign message was this:

I can't end it all
I'll still have to face eternity

My initial reaction was along the lines of "what is this I don't even--" but I soon copped a clue. This was a mildly more subtle way of saying "Guess what, sinner? THERE IS NO ESCAPE. Life sucks? Kill yourself? YOUR AFTERLIFE WILL SUCK EVEN HARDER."

Now, if I'm being completely honest, I have to say that I'm agnostic on the subject of an afterlife; never having been dead, I can't tell you what happens next. However, as there is no compelling evidence that I've found to support the empirical existence of an afterlife, I tend to operate on the assumption that this life is, in fact, the only one I'm going to have. (That was a very pompous pronouncement. I think I'm channeling Scully this morning. Woot!) And quite frankly, if that life became insupportable--think terminal horrific illness insupportable--I might well seek to end it, and I do and will always support the rights of others to do so. It's ridiculous to worry about a hypothetical eternal ever-after when the right now is unbearable.

The idea of an afterlife seems to be rooted in ego-attachment, the inability of the self-absorbed to conceive of a world without their presence in it; but the world was turning long before you or I existed, and it likely will continue to do so long after we have ceased to be. To my mind this is all the more reason to make this life count, and to be the best possible person in all the ways that matter. There are many, many things in life that I wish I had done differently or at all or not at all, places I wish I'd seen, people I'd prefer never to have known, whatever; that's life, no one gets out of it alive, and anyone who makes it to the end and claims to have no regrets is probably a liar. All the more reason to be conscious and mindful every day of what you're doing and how it's going to ripple out and affect you and your world and the people in it. Do I do that? Not so much as I'd like. Do I fail at that? Every damn day, in some way. Is it still my goal? Always.

Eternity is now, and life is right here. If a door has closed, open the window. You don't always have to end it all to start again. (I'll stop here, lest I drown us all in pithy aphorisms.)

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