Are you Dead Yet? 


“Are you dead yet?” 

“No.” 

“Isn’t this great?” 

“No.” 

How many of us know a “No” character? How many of us know someone who scrunches up a face and says, “You like life? What the heck is wrong with you?”  

They’re dark. It’s almost as if they’re obsessed with death, and I’m not just talking about goth customers of Fantas Magoria either.  

Those of us who enjoy life, often find ourselves at odds with “No” types.

“I want a happy death.” I would advise you to make the most out of life you can before you die. That might lead to a happier death. “I just put a bundle down on a sound-proof, fully insulated casket on a plot that is as far removed from traffic as I could find. I had to put up with the sounds of traffic in life. I don’t want to in death.” They talk about death as if it’s sleep, as if the sounds of traffic will prove so annoying that it will intermittently wake them from a peaceful death. Nobody knows anything about death, except that it is the final punctuation of life. Once you’re gone, you’re gone.  

We shouldn’t care how this “No” character chose to live his life. Even though we needed him, we shouldn’t care that he wanted it over. He didn’t care that we needed him so much, and he didn’t really want to be remembered. He just wanted it over, for about thirty years he wanted his life over. He chose to live those thirty years in a manner that he thought should be rewarded, but he didn’t really pursue the idea that he should make the most of the gift of life. He just didn’t think that way, but he was a good man. Should we really care why?  

What if this man wanted to hurry up and get his life over with, so he could join his beloved wife on the other side of pearly gates? What if he never found this life particularly rewarding, and he wanted hurry up and get his reward for living a good and virtuous life? What if there is no afterlife? What if his whole reason for living the life he lived turned out to be untrue? Is it untrue? We don’t know, but it seems like such a waste of life.

They told us there was an afterlife, but who were they? They were writers inspired by God. What does that mean? All writers are inspired by another author, especially at the beginning of their career, but how much does an author inspire what another writer writes? At what point does the writer take over and leave their inspirations in the dust? The only facts we know with 100% certitude, at this point in history, is that life exists on Earth, and it will end at some point. This might prove disappointing to many, but this could be it for us. 

We’re not supposed to question them. Why? Why were we created with such intellect if we weren’t supposed to question them, Him, or the teachings allegedly inspired by Him? If our creator was so narcissistic that He didn’t want us questioning him, why didn’t he give us the intellect of the chimpanzee? Did He make it a sin to question Him, or did His inspired writers write that questioning them was a sin?   

“I’m not taking any chances. I’m living my life right, just in case.” Again, nothing wrong with that, but even if your quality of life was diminished by her death, you still have something she doesn’t, life. You are here now, and we need you. Why not live the life you have left here on Earth and let matters take care of themselves? Death will come soon enough, and once it does, whatever happens, you’ll likely be banished from Earth.    

If there is an afterlife, will we look down, up, around, or back on our life on Earth with regret? Will we wish we would’ve lived better or different? Even if Heaven, Summerland, Nirvana Celtic Otherworld, or Valhalla are the paradise we’ve been promised, will we be as happy as we’ve ever been, or will they provide us a moment to look back on our life on Earth? If they do, will we finally see how substantial and special life was?  

Life is not a minor inconvenience on the path to something greater, as far as we know. Or, if it is, we should not focus on that idea so much that it begins to impede on our life on Earth. What if life is the reward or the gift?  

If we don’t enjoy life for what it is, because of the poor choices we’ve made, we should consider changing it. Some might require a complete overhaul, but most only need a few subtle tweaks. If we’re so unhappy in life that we begin looking forward to death it might be time for a change, before it’s too late, because once you’re gone, you’re gone.  

The fundamental, overriding philosophy of his life was that life is but a comma. I couldn’t articulate a proper response to this at the time, but if were granted enough time to ask him another soul-searching question, I would’ve loved to ask him, “If we’re looking for punctuation marks to define the life we lived, wouldn’t we love it if our loved ones applied an exclamation point at the end of our sentence? You suggest that you don’t want to take any chances that there isn’t an afterlife, and I appreciate that, but what if you applied the same rationale to the beforedeath? My guess is, if there is an afterlife, you’re going to find yourself surrounded by question marks, and the final answer to those questions will be that you focused too much of your life on death.”  

What happens at the moment of death? Some say it’s the unceremonious end of a life. There’s nothing more. There’s no soul and no afterlife, and if there’s anything to the idea of rebirth, it can only be found in the manner weeds, flowers, and worms use our carcass for nourishment. We will die one day, as the ground squirrel, the clover, and the elephant will? Life doesn’t last forever, and it’s our job to do the best we can with the 73.77 years we’ve been granted. 

Some believe our state of being doesn’t end, it changes. Some believe that the afterlife involves a literal transformation into something else. They call it reincarnation. They also believe that their souls have been reincarnated hundreds of times already, and they always trace the path of their soul through someone noteworthy and glorious. Most people were Julius Caesar during the height of his rule in a previous life. No one looks back to see themselves as a vulgar peasant who was forced to commit atrocities to survive. What if, as a result of the life we lived as a human, we come back as a grub, or a dung beetle? Will we have any consciousness of the life we lived before? Will we know that this is our reward/punishment for the life we lived, or will our consciousness of life be as minimal as the dung beetle’s?    

Various religions believe life on earth is but as stage, as opposed to the stage. These religions teach us that this is not all there is, and some of us take great comfort in knowing this. That comfort bothers others, because some are always bothered by comfortable people. They suggest that most religious doctrine almost seems centered around a marketing strategy to attract the angry, sad, and uncomfortable people who need hope.   

We all know the Christian version of Heaven and Hell, but the various Pagan religions have Summerland, the Celtic Otherworld, or Valhalla. They also have their own versions of the Christian purgatory, in that the unsettled soul moves from being to being until it learns what it needs to know to enter the promised land. Most religions share the view that this life on Earth can’t be it. 73.77 years on earth, and we’re done? It can’t be. We’re human beings. We’re the top of the food chain. We have emotions and intellect that should be utilized by a greater force. If the controlling force(s) allow us to dissolve to dust, it just seems like such a waste.  

Some other philosophers suggest that it’s possible that through our psychic energy, we’ve created a promised land, through the rational if God doesn’t exist, there might be a need to create Him. We created the internet through our collective intellect, and the metaverse, and the omniverse, who’s to say we couldn’t create our own afterverse composed of dead souls congregating for the rest of eternity? We created this reward for ourselves, because we’re too important to the universe. There’s got to be more than this. What if there isn’t? What if this is it?  

My aunt passed away, or she thought she did. She looked up and saw a bright light. It moved her to tears, until her daughter informed her that it was the examination room light. The sweet smile on her face diminished, and she felt dumb when we giggled. The doctor arrived in the room minutes later, diagnosed her, and they treated her for the next week. She was released from the hospital, and she lived the rest of her remaining years disappointed. One might think that such a near-death experience might wake a person up and lead them to live a better life than the one they lived before the experience. She didn’t. She experienced what she thought was glory, and she lived a life of disappointment and routine in the aftermath.  

What if we had such a spiritually moving experience? Researchers suggest we continue to live 2-20 seconds after death. They say that we experience a surge of electricity in our brain in this brief time span. Other research suggests that dreams can last 50 seconds, but that the average dream only lasts 15 seconds. With both of those theories in mind, we can guess that this surge of electricity in our brains can make an after-death dream feel like one of the most powerfully surreal dreams we’ve ever had. We might feel more alive than we ever have after our death. We might even call it an afterlife experience.    

We should hold no grudges or superiority over intellects who focus on the afterlife. Better minds than ours believe in the phenomenon, and dumber ones believe that we become nothing more than worm food … if we don’t purchase the proper casket with the best insulation technology has to offer. Some label the former superstitious, others mystical, but whatever we call it, it’s not an indicator of intellect. 

I don’t know if there is evidence that could end this debate, but what if we received concrete, irrefutable evidence that the afterlife did or did not exist? Would this lead us to live better lives? Would we enjoy our lives more in the aftermath? If there is no afterlife, we’ll never regret how we lived. If there is an afterlife, we might regret how we lived. What difference does that make to you now though, I ask these “No” characters.  

He believed in a deity. He believed in the Christian God. “Why do you think he placed you here, on Earth? What’s your purpose? I doubt He put you here, or any of us here, to live for the promised land.” A literal interpretation is that the promised land is a promise He made to those who make the most of life on earth. Obsessing over that promise almost seems like a violation of the contract. My guess is God loses patience with those who obsess over death.

If God chose to speak to us, my guess is he’d say, “Do everything with the greatest gift I ever gave you, life. Death comes soon enough for everyone and everything, and when it does, you’ll see what happens.”   

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