From the moment we are born we are told Death is something we should be scared of. That we should be sad when someone close to us, or not even close at all, dies. This belief is carved into our fertile minds from a premature age. Death is bad and you should postpone it for as long as you can.
Biologically speaking, our bodies and their inner systems have been designed by nature’s intelligence to make sure we know how to recognize possible threats to our lives.
Like all animals, surviving is a precious thing and we know our lives should be protected at all costs. Annihilation is a condition of Life in the form of a puzzle that can only be solved with the passing and waiting of Time. An enigma as big as this one evokes big questions. Some even dare to offer answers and forecasts. Art, Literature, Philosophy, Science and Religion have been steadily addressing this giant shadow lurking over us and theorizing as to the true meaning of our inevitable demise.
From a spiritual point of view, I have heard many times that all fears are basically echoes of the big F, Fear of Death. If you ever find yourself surfing a wave of worry about something in particular play this little game: Ask out loud “If X occurred, what’s the worst thing that could happen?” Answer. Now, if that worst thing happened, what’s the worst thing that could happen after? And if that new worst thing happened, what’s the worst thing that could happen? You would most likely end up answering at some point: I would die.
But when something so terribly appalling is surely going to present itself to all of us, what can one do about it in order to live a better Life? Just like any clever programmer would do, we need to hack the system. And by the system, I mean our belief systems around the notion of Death. You must make Death your new best friend. Changing your point of view is vital when you cannot change the policies of a contract you’ve already signed. Let’s start by simplifying the equation by saying: If you’re reading this, you are alive. If you are alive, you are going to die. Dying means putting an end to “Life”. Therefore “Life” cannot be that serious, because it is going to end. Thus “Life” must be equal to “Game”. A game starts, ends, and in between, you are encouraged to play. With a bit of luck, you’ll even have fun while doing so.
Concerning games, author and philosopher James P. Carse differentiates between finite and infinite games. “There are at least two kinds of games. One could be called finite, the other infinite. A finite game is played for the purpose of winning, an infinite game for the purpose of continuing the play.” So, as we were insinuating before, there is no such thing as winning in Life, because we are all going to lose that battle by definition of our own mortality. And if Life cannot be won, it might not be a finite game but an infinite one. We do it for the purpose of continuing to play. The rules must change during the course of the race. In such a manner, this is exactly what Transhumanism is trying to do. Alter human conditions by introducing technology in order to improve the quality of our lives. Adjusting the rules to the game for a longer and more enjoyable match.
Death is, in reality, a ticket to a superior account, the Premium one. We want to have it for free, and the good news is that we will. But we need to make sure we use it wisely and appropriately. Squandering our days in the Game of Life holding grudges against other players, not pursuing our dreams and not taking leaps might mean overlooking the opportunity of deciding how you want to participate in it.
How much money would you pay to talk to your deceased mother/father/sister/brother/friend? Death has the power to put everything into perspective. It is that big of a tool. It can improve the quality of our runs inside this fleeting existence. It reminds us of the essence of the game. Fears and worries are the frictions getting in the way between Us and a joyful Life. Hence, if all fears are in fact echoes of the fear of dying, wouldn’t it get much easier navigating existence being best friends with Death? In Life, like in sports and games, having a limited amount of time makes the performance more challenging. Whereas having unlimited hours takes all the amusement away.
Is Death doing all of us a favor by existing, marking the boundaries and creating a space for us to play? Were we really scared of Death in the first place? Or were we just built with an inescapable desire to play the Infinite Game for as long as we possibly can?
Published in LIFE IS WEIRD