Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Out Of Time

Thoughts of nonexistence make me increasingly serene. I'm starting to get what robed Eastern monks have been yammering about for centuries, and I may resume sculpting that beer can Buddha shrine I abandoned years ago. Or I may just hustle rubes over darts at the local brewery. Depends on my mood.

Looking at the countless religions, statements of faith, violence and corruption anchoring those faiths, desperate, manipulative visions of endless afterlifes, and the sectarian bellowing that serves as the soundtrack, I suspect that my serenity is a minority taste. Most people want to live forever, have awareness for eternity. I've understood this desire at various levels throughout my life, but never really shared it.

I think that eternal life would drive me nuts. Oh, I'd go with it for awhile, maybe the first 70 years or so. But after a century of death-free living, boredom would set in, tedium unknown in the physical world, and hence more crushing. And there'd be no escape, unless the next life has an afterlife of its own, and another after that, and on and on.

Now there's a play for you! All these doors leading to different levels of awareness, but in the end, it turns out to be the same room! Man, would that throw an audience! But it might also make them think, at least before they realize they'd been taken and they trash the box office, demanding their money back.

And I don't buy the conceit that in the afterlife, you'd be rubbing shoulders with the greats. I've known at least five guitar players who said that when they die, they'll be jamming with Jimi Hendrix or Stevie Ray Vaughn. What narcissistic fantasy. Did it ever occur to them that Hendrix and Vaughn, having nothing more to prove as guitarists, might be completely out of the music scene? Hendrix could be an innovative botanist, and here come a bunch of lesser, dead musicians clamoring to play "Purple Haze" with him. That's gotta blow, especially if he's just discovered a new strain of celestial plant fiber that requires his full attention.

Eternal life is bound to disappoint, so oblivion is probably the way to go. This has been reinforced by "Life After People," a History Channel show I recently discovered. The first time I watched this, I felt at peace. It soothed my nerves and eased my anxiety. George Carlin once said that far from destroying the Earth, people will be shaken off like dandruff, allowing the planet to reboot itself, eventually destroying most if not all traces of human existence.

Except for Mount Rushmore?