Best read of the day: Roger Ebert muses on mortality.
I don’t expect to die anytime soon. But it could happen this moment, while I am writing. I was talking the other day with Jim Toback, a friend of 35 years, and the conversation turned to our deaths, as it always does. “Ask someone how they feel about death,” he said, “and they’ll tell you everyone’s gonna die. Ask them, In the next 30 seconds? No, no, no, that’s not gonna happen. How about this afternoon? No. What you’re really asking them to admit is, Oh my God, I don’t really exist and I might be gone at any given second.”
Me too, but I hope not. I have plans. Still, this blog has led me resolutely toward the contemplation of death. In the beginning I found myself drawn toward writing about my life. Everyone’s life story is awaiting only the final page. Then I began writing on the subject of evolution, that most consoling of all the sciences, and was engulfed in an unforeseen discussion about God, the afterlife, and religion.
I like that bit about the consolation of evolution — I feel it too, that having a connection to both our long history and our future is really the province of evolution, and that this is where we can find deeper meaning.
The thought of dying any time is real, too. In my case, it’s the awareness that I’m only about 4 years away from having outlived my father (although he also suffered over a dozen long years of heart disease, a history I’ve avoided so far). We could any of us go at any time, and as godless folk, our only relief from melancholy has to be in the taking of joy in reality.