So I'm reading Dave Barry's latest book, “Best State Ever,” about his beloved Florida, and not surprisingly, it's hilarious, brilliant and insightful. Then he drops this revelation. “ I don't believe 'mediums' can communicate with dead people. I don't believe the miraculous claims made by most major religions. At funerals, when the clergy person says the deceased has gone to a better place, I don't believe it, and I don't think the clergy person always believes it either.” Okay, that's heavy duty shit, right? A Google search revealed that Dave Barry is the son of a Presbyterian minister. So if there was anyone who was conditioned to believe in the comforting concept of an afterlife, from early childhood, it's Dave Barry. What really hits home, he's is so right! That's exactly what we do. We look down, shuffle our feet and mumble something about how our cat, grandma, father, (insert loved one here), is “in a better place.” But deep down we don't really believe it. It's just too damn convenient. The premise is, after living these random, painful, wonderful, often unfair, always unpredictable lives, all of life's vagaries are corrected in death. In death there is eternal fairness, justice and reason. Good people go to Heaven. Bad people go to Hell. We are reunited with everyone we want to be reunited with and life after death is perfect. Or, unspeakably awful, depending on how you conducted yourself on Earth. Sounds awfully self serving, doesn't it? Being that there is an afterlife for people, wouldn't there then also have to be an afterlife for all living things? Ants, fleas, cockroaches, single celled organisms, lawyers, etc.? What purpose in Mother Nature's grand scheme of things would the afterlife serve? Where does death fit in to the circle of life? It seems the primary purpose of believing in an afterlife, is to assuage people's fear of death. It is one Hell of a fear. It can verge on panic, if you let it. As a wee lad of four I asked my father what happens after we die and, being an atheist, he said “Nothing, we're just gone.” First of all, that's a massive head trip for a four year old! I would mention that to my father, but he's in a better place now. Immediately after he told me that death is final, I felt a surge of panic. The idea of the yawning chasm of eternity chugging along, without me in it, was utterly horrifying. Apparently, my father saw the shock on my face and said “But... they may someday be able to freeze people after they die, then bring them back to life later, when they figure out how to cure whatever killed them.” This gave me just enough of a glimmer of hope to end my panic attack. “Yeah, yeah, I wanna be frozen... frozen!” I blurted. So, life is short, weird, painful and a million other things, then, it's just over. The good news, if it is just over- and I do NOT pretend to know anything for a fact- but if it is just over, we will not be there to mourn our own passing. But listen, if you want to believe in an afterlife; Heaven, Hell, reincarnation, eternity at Club Med, being unfrozen, by all means believe away! I get it. Death is scary as shit!
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