Friday, January 23, 2009

Going in Deep

It's been a rough week. Several people at my company were laid off this week. Some had been with the company for a long time. I work in the TechPubs department, with five others, and three of us were laid off. I'm very grateful that I wasn't one of them, but very sad to see my coworkers struggle with this unexpected shock and its inevitable repercussions.

One nice thing this week was that Jim has a house to work on. We don't know if there are more in the immediate future, but for now, this one job is good enough. That's all you can do really. Is take it one day, one job at a time.

That's what I've learned recently. To exist in the now, to live just this day. It came to a point with a single profound thought.

We'd been watching Lord of the Rings last weekend and I got to thinking about what really happens to us after we die. We humans tell ourselves a lot of comforting stories, but what logically makes sense? And I thought "What if it's just nothing?"

That's a scary idea at first. I'm sure many people would rather not think about it, I know I didn't want to. But I stuck with it. What if, after I die, I entirely don't exist any more? No suffering, but no pleasure either. I think it's the thought of no love that scares me most, no loving God, or light or presence. But I wouldn't care, because.. well.. nothing can't care.

Then I realized, if there is nothing (and it seems that this makes the most sense) then it means that every little thing I do while I'm alive is just that much more important. Every act is a one time opportunity. Every sensation is a treasure. I felt a renewed appreciation for my life. And yet, could all the stories be wrong? There are some very smart people holding some very strong beliefs that life after death is a fact.

I read a children's book this week called Holes. It is an excellent book that made a very good point about belief. In it, the narrator describes a highly poisonous lizard that can kill a person with just one bite. And he says:

"A lot of people don't believe in yellow-spotted lizards either, but if one bites you, it doesn't make a difference whether you believe in it or not."

It's the same for life after death. If it exists, whether I believe in it or not, it will still be there. Presumably I will get to enjoy it because I'm a good person striving to be better. At least that's what most of the stories agree on. If it doesn't exist, and I live my life with the idea that there is nothing more than this life, then I will strive to appreciate and do well with every moment I have. It's really a win-win situation.

So now I'm not scared that there might be nothing after death. I've explored the worst and it wasn't so bad. Plus, I've still got hope that there's something better.


  1. What a thoughtful and beautiful post. I'm so sorry for your co-workers, but glad that you still have a job.

    I need to read Holes. I once stumbled across it on TV, and loved the movie. It was a complete surprise, because while I had heard of its popularity, I knew absolutely nothing about it until I watched.

    We just finished re-watching the LotR rings trilogy last weekend, too! And yeah, it does get you thinking about so many things. Personally, I don't believe that anything but decomposition happens after death, no matter how much I would like to believe something else. But what we do in life can affect so many people after we're gone that I don't feel like I'll completely disappear, at least not for a generation or two. (I hope!)

    I'm currently reading The World Without Us, by Alan Weisman. It's about what would happen on planet Earth if the humans just up and disappeared. I saw a TV special based on the book last year, and the overwhelming feeling I came away with was that it will be okay. Good. Great, even. So in some ways, I'm not so sad that we may all disappear. It's actually kind of beautiful, in a way. The book is a lot more in-depth than the TV special, though I don't yet know if it will give me the same feeling in the end. In any case, it's a very good read, and I highly recommend it.

  2. And deep it was. I am sorry for your troubles. Even though you weren't laid off, it creates terrible morale problems. We have friends who work at 3M and I worry about them They recently laid of 140.

  3. There's a song I think of whenever this topic of life or not after death comes along. It's a not quite serious cowboy take on the topic: 'Reincarnation' by Riders in the Sky, on their Silver Jubilee album. Puts things in perspective for me.

  4. Let's email about this sometime -- great topic!

    Sorry about the lay-offs but very glad about J having some work. I've been thinking about him a lot, puzzling over his condition. Will write soon.

    Eyes are a bit pesky but you're at the top of the queue when I'm ready to deal with email again.

    Love your positive attitude!

  5. Plumunou France6:47 am

    I totally understand. I also work in a place which is having huge problems. In France, it's a little different because the social protection is higher but still we found out on the 15th Jan that we would be paid in January !!! People are leaving all the time and on Friday, the company is closing for a day to save money. It's forced holidays !
    We just have to hope for the best...