When I was younger, I found myself fascinated by the prospect of life after death. I was drawn to miraculous stories of people who had nearly died and come back to tell the tale. The thought that there might be something after this equally comforted and frightened me. My young mind struggled to consolidate these ideas, to figure out what to believe, and to this day I’m not sure I have found the answer.
I’ll admit, in my youth I was far less rational; far less scientific than I am now and I was definitely more impressionable. I think the desire to fit in when I was young drove me to “believe” in what everyone else around me did. But as I grew up, my curiosity grew too, and I began to question the beliefs I once thought were fact.
By the time I was in high school I had amassed a mental archive of “after-life”stories and I noticed a pattern had emerged. The type of life a person led seemed to dictate how they would describe the afterlife. The religious would see “god,” the spiritual would see family and loved ones, and the scientific would see nothing. Obviously, there were some exceptions but the point I’m getting at here, is that the “afterlife” seemed to be entirely custom order.
Naturally, it begged the question: What if it is? What if in those final milliseconds before the brain goes offline, our perception of time slows to infinity and the events of our lives no longer exist as compartmentalized memories in our minds? What if, in that moment, there became no past, no present, no future, but instead like a brush combining paints to make a new color, a new world was born of all possibilities . Ready to be manipulated, molded, and shaped into the most beautiful mosaic of peace and tranquility. A paradise; a final parting gift before a long journey home.
It seems plausible that in such a chaotic state the minds interpretation of “reality” and the definition thereof is no longer important. That time itself becomes irrelevant; unnecessary. That we unknowingly, spend our lives creating our own made-to-order paradise, feels somehow right to me. Maybe that’s what all the ancient scripts have been trying to describe all along and we have just been too caught up to notice. Maybe the years we’ve spent refining dissonance corrupted the waters of a once crystal clear understanding?
Perhaps it is not for us to know. Perhaps the mechanics of consciousness will never be understood well enough to say for sure but it’s a nice thought none the less. Maybe it is the justice we deserve, good and bad, and maybe “hell” exists there too. Or maybe “there” is nothing at all. Seems all the more reason to enjoy life while it lasts. All the more reason to invest in those you love. All the more reason breathe in the moments you have and bring that paradise to life.