19 April 2022


The last few months have inclined me, more than usual, to ruminate upon the possibility of my own death.  I increasingly have a feeling that my remaining lifetime may be considerably shorter than I once hoped (there are a variety of reasons for this, which I prefer not to discuss).  Most recently, of course, there is the war in Ukraine -- creating the ever-present possibility that some error or emotional decision by either Putin or Biden might lead to the direct involvement of NATO forces in combat with the Russians, which in turn would likely lead to an all-out nuclear exchange which would kill me along with almost everyone else in the US, Russia, and Europe.

Thoughts of one's death inevitably inspire an assessment of one's life.  How have I done?  Have I made worthy use of the gift of existence in this world?

Like everyone, I have made my share of mistakes.  Yet I believe that on the whole the balance is very much positive.

I have had plenty of good experiences, in relationships with people and in traveling to various parts of the world.

I have approached life with an open mind and have learned, I believe, much more than most people do, even those with similar opportunities.

I've used such abilities as I have to attack religion in every way I could.

I have avoided developing the kind of cold, judgmental, compassionless personality which is increasingly common these days (especially among the ostentatiously religious, ironically enough), despite early in my life being inclined to ideologies which foster such traits.

I did right by the person who meant the most to me during the last nine years of her life, when she truly needed me the most, however difficult it so often was.  I will always know that I successfully met the most important challenge I have ever faced, or ever will face, even if I live to be a thousand.

After decades of effort I can truly say that I have learned to live on my own terms, relying on my own judgment, not in thrall to the criticisms and standards of others.  A life lived on terms set by others is not worth living at all.

I hope, of course, that my life does continue a great deal longer (and remember, living to be a thousand is not entirely out of the question).  I would like to see what humanity's continued progress brings, and what discoveries await us in the various realms of science.  I want to be here when we learn, finally, whether there are other self-aware minds out among the stars, or a tenantless cosmos awaits humanity's own future expansion.

But however my story ends, I will be able to say with confidence that I have not done badly.


Blogger Mary said...

An excellent post and I have been thinking about death a lot lately, as well. Part getting older, the mess in the world and actually knowing people who are gone and missed.
I’d say you’ve done an excellent job, far more than I’ve ever contributed, but at 75, it is what it is. My life has been good and content, but I have not contributed much. I envy the opportunity you had with your Mom. I dearly loved my Mom, but the situation was different.

Anyway, I leave you with this little paragraph I keep and read when I get a bit down with life..

Contemplating mortality, Richard Dawkins wrote:

"We are going to die, and that makes us the lucky ones. Most people are never going to die because they are never going to be conceived. The potential people who could have been here in my place, but who will in fact never see the light of day, outnumber the sand grains of Arabia. Certainly those unborn ghosts include greater poets than Keats, scientists greater than Newton. We know this because the set of possible people allowed by our DNA so massively exceeds the set of actual people. In the teeth of these stupefying odds it is you and I, in our ordinariness, that are here. We privileged few, who won the lottery of conception, against all odds, how dare we whine at our inevitable return to that prior state from which the vast majority have never stirred?"

19 April, 2022 05:43  
Blogger Sixpence Notthewiser said...

You went all deep on me all of a sudden. Very nice reflection. I don't think about death (or dying) that often, and I think we all should do it. I do have a 'in case of death' plan, though. It involves a will and some arrangements.
I don't think we'll go into WWIII but what do I know. Vlad is a petulant bully and as such, he's totally unpredictable.


19 April, 2022 07:27  
Blogger SickoRicko said...

Thank you for sharing your thoughts on this subject; I enjoy the way you write. I, too, have been thinking similarly lately, for some of the same reasons. Strangely, I'm not resigning to the future, but accepting of it. (That's not always obvious in the things I say out loud.) As the well-worn cliché states: "What will be will be."

19 April, 2022 07:34  
Blogger Leanna said...

On every birthday after I turned 40 I used to think about dying and what happens after. I've given up on doing that because of several reasons.
#1. It made me sad and mad at the world because there could be a WW3 at any time and that would ruin all my fun plans.
#2. Who knows, you could die in a car or plane wreck or a heart attack or even stroke out and there is no stopping that from happening. Bummer.
And last, #3. I was becoming crazy about thinking of my inevitable death. But there is a problem in my family. The women on my mother's side live forever and I mean F O R E V E R and E V E R. My great grandmother on my mother's side lived 107 years, grandma lasted 102. All mom's sisters are in their late 90s and my mother is still going strong at 97. So, I'm stuck here on this rock but I might get lucky and cash in my chips on this poker game early. Nobody know when they will end their time, just be happy make the most of it and find a hobby.

19 April, 2022 08:44  
Blogger jenny_o said...

It's good to be able to come to such an assessment. I hope you have many years left.

Lately I've been more and more concerned about my longevity, or lack of it. I feel I haven't done much with my life except be a caregiver. While that's not inconsequential, I don't feel I have done much to develop myself or to give to the larger community, and that alarms me as I realize I have, at the very most, probably twenty years of life left. Quite possibly less. And no end in sight to my current caregiver role.

19 April, 2022 08:45  
Blogger Regina M. said...

Ah, I can relate to your article very much since I've been reviewing my own life of late due to my most recent health problem. Your analysis is clearly one to be very content with - actually I believe proud of. I've looked forward to reading your blog daily and am happy that I "found" it. So "thank you!" from the base of the mini-mountain in Maine.

19 April, 2022 09:03  
Blogger VoenixRising said...

So relatable. Going through the same stuff right now.I hope we're both wrong.

19 April, 2022 10:31  
Blogger CAS said...

I've only known you for a short time, and I'm not even sure 'known' is the right word since we've only interacted online, but everything you've said about yourself above rings true to me. I've certainly come to admire your intellect and the values that you've shared here and elsewhere. There are many ways to lead an exemplary life and from what I've seen, you sure seem to be in the top tier of the top tier.

The world is indeed frightening at this time. Putin is obviously willing to screw over humanity and I see no way, at this moment, that his psycho mindset can be brought under control. Take care of yourself, my friend. People like you remind us that despite the horror, humans are capable of great things.

19 April, 2022 18:25  
Blogger Mike said...

I plan on living forever. So far, so good.

19 April, 2022 18:43  
Blogger Ami said...

About two years ago I found myself thinking that my time is short. I don't know *how* short, and there was no particular reason for me to feel that way, but I still do.

I have no advice for anyone, really. I'm trying to give things that belong in the family to other family members and working on selling things that no one wants but that could still enrich those I leave behind.

I had a friend in the 7th grade (we're actually still in touch) who said one day, "Do you ever think you're the only one something has happened to? That no one else has ever felt that way or gone through that?"

I said yes, that I often feel I'm the only one... to which she replied, "Well, you're not."

She was right, and I've seen it over and over. Apparently I'm not the only one considering my mortality. So thank you for writing this post.

19 April, 2022 19:06  
Blogger Infidel753 said...

Mary: I guess it weighs more and more on people as time progresses and as circumstances change. We each contribute according to the circumstances we're in. Help can seem minor in the grand scheme of things, yet mean all the world to the person one does it for.

The Dawkins quote is a good example of the kind of perspective being a biologist gives him. I hope we never get reconciled to death as an inevitability, though.

Sixpence: I suppose I should do something about planning for death, but it's hard to feel motivated. When I die the world ends, from my viewpoint.

Ricko: Sometimes I wish I could take that approach -- much of what directs our fate is beyond our power to influence, after all. I just have the kind of personality that wants to fight to the end rather than submit to something external.

Leanna: It's true that anyone could be unexpectedly killed at any time. That point is rather frequently brought to my attention by the way some people drive. It's one of the reasons I won't ever go back to regular commuting.

Heredity is generally the strongest factor influencing lifespan. Think of it as widening your choices. Remember, as long as you're still here you always have the option of leaving, but once you're gone, you don't have the option of coming back.

Jenny_o: I know how hard being a caregiver can be, and how daunting it can be when it seems that you'll always be stuck in that role -- and I've read your experiences (I don't always comment on your posts, but I do always read them). But it's one of the most important things a person can do. I my case, at least, I could never forgive myself now if I hadn't done all I could while my mother was still alive.

"The larger community" has never done jack for me. They can go fish.

19 April, 2022 23:48  
Blogger Infidel753 said...

Regina: Thanks for the kind words about the blog! And I hope that health problem is resolved.

Voenix: I hope so too.

CAS: I appreciate your very kind words. I can honestly say that, at least in every matter of significance, I've tried to do the right thing. I hasn't really made me happy, but I know I'd feel worse if I hadn't. I really don't get the chip-on-the-shoulder type of personality whose stance toward life is a scowl of disapproval and an upraised middle finger. The internet has made me aware that they are out there, though.

Mike: I still hope to live to see the time when that becomes technologically feasible. It's not looking as likely as it once did, though.

Ami: I think many people think such thoughts, especially as they get older and their health deteriorates. In my case it was spurred on by the suddenness with which my circumstances changed. I had pretty much perfect health until I was 47, then the arthritis hit, I started having trouble walking and needed major surgeries, and it's just been one thing after another. I still haven't really adjusted to not feeling pretty much fine most of the time any more.

20 April, 2022 00:00  
Blogger Infidel753 said...

Art: Your comment was fairly long and not really on topic for this post. I have a post on the Ukraine war coming up later this week, so I'll put your comment there.

20 April, 2022 00:02  
Blogger Martha said...

Beautifully written. It sounds like a life well-lived. I wish you many more years ahead!

20 April, 2022 17:48  
Blogger Daal said...

you are so brave -- I lean heavily on denial when it comes to contemplating death, that of loved ones or myself... this is absolutely beautiful -- the world needs you...

20 April, 2022 20:45  
Blogger Infidel753 said...

Martha and Daal, I really appreciate your kind words about me. It makes a difference.

20 April, 2022 22:35  
Blogger yellowdoggranny said...

I think about dying every fucking day...it ain't fun.

21 April, 2022 11:54  
Blogger RO said...

I think as we age, we do start to look at things happening in the world a little more closely, as well as looking at ourselves. That becomes even more evident if there are illnesses that creep up unexpectedly. I feel like you do, and is one the reasons I stepped away from blogging. Things have happened that make me realize at 60 that I want to do a few things for me. I also made sure to remind friends and family that I don't want anyone to be burdened with a funeral for me. Too much money, too much drama, too much stuff.(lol) I hope one day soon that you share what's going on with you medically. I know you're not religious, but my heart still wants to offer up a prayer, or to have you on my heart. Many things you've said have resonated so strongly with me, and I appreciate that so much. I care. Sending lots of hugs, RO

22 April, 2022 08:11  
Blogger Infidel753 said...

Granny: It certainly isn't. I hope you're able to keep it in perspective.

RO: Much as I miss your posts, I can certainly understand the desire to focus your time on what you really want to do. I'm giving this a lot of thought myself. I'll soon be eligible for Social Security, which will make things more flexible.

I've posted about a few things like the arthritis and eye problems, but a lot of what's going on with me isn't actually medical.

I'm glad if things I've written have resonated with you -- I hope it will continue to be the case. As long as I'm here at all, I expect to keep posting.

Thanks very much for your words.

23 April, 2022 00:55  
Blogger Mary said...

You have a fine mind and excellent writing skills, so you must continue to blog😊. A light in the darkness, as it were.

23 April, 2022 05:20  
Blogger Infidel753 said...

Mary: Thank you, I appreciate it. I do try to keep going.

23 April, 2022 20:21  

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