Prince Philip died today. So did some Rapper DMX dude. The day Michael Jackson died, Farrah Fawcett also died. Depending on your interest, one or the other meant more to you. In general, though, I would say Prince Philip was more famous than Rapper DMX, and Michael Jackson famous more than Farrah Fawcett, at least at the time he died. I wonder if they had a chance to reflect on it, would either DMX or Farrah would have complained, “C’mon man! Couldn’t you have waited one more day to die?”. To die in the spotlight rather in someone’s death shadow. Such a curse for fame. But does it exist?
Have you ever noticed how good a person everyone is when they are remembered at their funerals? Even the ones most fundamentally flawed sound like they were outstanding citizens, despite all their acknowledged faults. While attending one such challenged individual’s funeral, I wondered why we had to wait until people were dead to see them so positively? Why could we not do that while they were alive? That’s not to suggest we should ignore their flaws, especially the serious ones. No. That could be harmful to us, and it would not be helpful to them. I’m suggesting we note their good aspects as starting points when we think of them, before tacking on their flaws, instead of the other way around. It would certainly slow and reduce our rash judgment of others, of which there is far too much happening today.
You know what forever means technically, but do you know what it means, practically? What does forever really mean when we live in such a zeptoscopic amount of time in relation to many things in our own history, never mind that of the earth and universe?
Have you ever had a near death experience? If not, count yourself lucky, and either take my views on faith and/or consult with someone who has to compare notes. But if you had a near death experience, did it change you and/or your life perspectives afterward? And how, if so?
Our struggle to understand how we know we would one day die, yet all the while, we could not imagine a state of our nonexistence.
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Cave argues that besides our immortality narratives, what sets us apart from other sentient beings are our highly connected brains and our self-awareness — adaptive developments that have enabled us to foresee different possibilities and make sophisticated plans, but also, in envisioning the future, to grapple with the terrifying prospect of our own demise. He terms this the “Mortality Paradox” and argues that it gives shape to both immortality narratives and civilization itself:
On the one hand, our powerful intellects come inexorably to the conclusion that we, like all other living things around us, must one day die. Yet on the other, the one thing that these minds cannot imagine is the very state of nonexistence; it is literally inconceivable. Death therefore presents itself as both inevitable and impossible.
It’s a lot more interesting to learn about this and Immortality Narratives (tomorrow’s post) via this Hidden Brain podcast episode!