The Insignificant Life
The beauty on the other side of a hard truth
One day my heart will stop beating. My bloodflow will slow to a standstill. My breath will cease to cycle. My organs will shut down, and my skin will cool.
I will feel myself gently slip away into nothing, and with it, the memories, habitual mental patterns, unresolved traumas and unfulfilled dreams I was carrying with me.
On that day, family may grieve for me. Friends may shed a tear. And perhaps a wider collection of weakly tied associates may offer themselves a moment’s reflection while hearing of the news in passing or scrolling through their social media feed on the way to work.
And these are the few who shared a connection with me. The fragment of humanity I touched directly with my presence.
The rest of the billions on the planet won’t even know I have departed. Almost all of which won’t know I ever existed. Their lives will continue on as if nothing happened.
And then there is time …
With time, my family, friends and associates’ grief will pass. They will start thinking about me less frequently.. Maybe once every month. Then even less. Eventually, my life will become no more than a short elevator story. Something to say. Someone they knew.
And, of course, eventually, everyone who knew me will die too. And with them, any firsthand evidence of my existence on this planet.
My work may ripple out across space and time, and for a second, my reputation may be carried with it. But that will eventually fade too.
And even if, for some reason, my name continues to memetically echo through human minds and AI chatbot learning models, that name won’t be anything more than an abstract painting of the person who lived. It won’t be me. A mental ghost of me perhaps. A static form. A useful fictional character operating in service of the times.
Continue on further, and even the faintest ripples of my actions will be so minuscule, that their influence will become undetectable to even the most godly instruments. Indistiguishable from anything else. Insignificant. Like the contribution of a single grain of sand to the unfolding universe.
A grain of sand—
that is the extent of my life. A ‘blip on the cosmic calendar. A momentary shimmer. Relatively nothing within the context of everything.
KNOWN, BUT NOT FELT
The undeniable truth of the situation is clear to me. I get it.
And yet if I look closely, it is apparent that the understanding isn’t fully felt. It doesn’t appear in all my actions. It still needs to sink into the bones of my being.
If I am honest, there are still times where my life feels unreasonably permanent. Like I’m going to carry on forever. Like I've got time. And yet I know I don’t.
Why can’t I look at this truth thoroughly? Why is it so hard to feel the inevitability of my eventual demise? To totally accept the insignificance of my existence?
A Deeply Conditioned Mind
Looking into the problem, I can see the conditioning. I can see how important the sense of permanence is to the feeling of self. How necessary a sense of significance is to my ego. And with it, all the desires for success and the fears of failure I hold.
The whole thing a carefully crafted cage of concrete conditioning, encouraging endless continuity.
Beliefs built over generations. Transmitted to a vulnerable young mind in the early stages of life and reinforced through almost every interaction the mind comes into contact with, as it moves through society.
The process of disillusionment is an enormous task. I see that. Like turning the Titanic around. It requires unimaginable levels of sincere dedication. Courage, and exposure to the reality of death on a consistent basis—like a dirty dishcloth, the mind must be soaked in this truth. With time, the deeply entrenched stories will gradually and imperceptibly dissolve.
WHAT WILL COME OF THIS FELT UNDERSTANDING?
In short, I am not entirely sure. I’m not fully in it yet.
What I can say is that so far, I have been surprised.
I expected a sense of nihilism to arise. To become more morbid and sad as I leaned into understanding the truth of death. The discomfort may have been there in the early stages of grappling with this understanding, but it faded quickly.
What I didn’t expect are the moments of aliveness that this understanding creates. The gratitude for my being. The compulsion to cherish the human experience more deeply. The loosening of attachment to outcomes. The dispelling of the desperate need to achieve. The neurotic concerns with what I think people think of me.
Everything feels less serious and yet somehow bursting with more meaning. There is less judgment, and yet more feeling. Less fear, less hope, more peace, more compassion. Melancholic contentment with things as they are. Freedom to just be as I am. To create for its own sake. To simply enjoy life.
A cloth soaks.
The illusion dissolves as the truth sinks in.
Death seen and felt. Its presence known.
Fearless freedom flowers and is cherished.
Life flows as it must.
Just for a moment.
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