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STOIC POETRY | Coming in from the cold

Updated: Sep 4, 2021

September 8, 2019

Dear Eric,

I think I know why people don't want to die. It's because they know there's nothing for us after life is done. And nobody likes this idea much. So, many of us tell ourselves otherwise. And we convince - or let other convince us - that there is something to follow. We build connections with people who share our belief, and then communities, and societies and cultures. Time cements such stories with the firm substance of precedent, and we're comforted with the satisfaction of accepting what others have always thought and believed. And then we just accept...and rarely give our stories a second-thought. But still, we're afraid to die...even if we think we're going to paradise...we're still afraid to die. And others are afraid for us...even if they think we're going to paradise....they're afraid for us to die. There's the sadness of loss in their tears, but they are also afraid to die.

Why our love Of this place and circumstance? Our desire to remain, And to be remembered, And even... to not forget

We are afraid of death because we enjoy being alive...mostly. Sure, it's hard sometimes, sometimes a lot. But overall, it beats the alternative which we seemingly know is true: that death is an utter end and cessation, not only of living but of all being; an utter and absolute end - with no final chance of reunion, reconciliation or justice. We all "remember" the nothing we weren't before we were born. That's a strange combination of words...though these words do capture the sense of what I mean.

What "we weren't"

As though an utter absence of anything could somehow be something. That this sounds strange is just a failing of my vocabulary to capture a sense of the deepest absence of anything. But we were indeed once nothing. And then we became something. And now we'll be something for a little while yet. And just when things start to get fun and interesting (life seems always on this verge) we'll wink out and "become" nothing again. Nuts...

But this news is not so bad if we've our community of friends and family who share our contrived stories of forever. We'll go on telling one another of a joyful, eternal reunion, of a better place where those who went before now reside, and where our good living may certainly earn us passage. And maybe even of a worse place where we and others might wind up if we're not good or fail to toe the party line. So we toe, and we come together, and we sing, and we weep, and we believe. All the while we fear. All the while we remain afraid or at least hesitant of death. For we wish to remain here. We'd rather stay somewhere certain. Despite the suggested wonders of there - that someplace of possible make-believe. We'd rather stay here. For fear there may be no there.

Some part of us refuses always to accept the doubted certainty over the unwanted reality.



My name is Kurt Bell.

You can learn more about The Good Life in my book Going Alone.

Be safe... But not too safe.

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