Updated: Aug 28
Before I was alive I'm pretty sure I simply did not exist. Oh sure, the stuff of which I am made was around, and the energy which courses through me was somewhere here—but, I wasn't. The thing which is me did not exist. The composite collection of atoms and energy which thus assembled and was given my name was never anywhere together before my conception and what was the start of a long chain of chemical reactions leading to now; a series of cellular additions—the lives and deaths of countless unicellular me—cascading through five and a half decades of life; astonishingly complex in organization, with a simple mandate to carry on long enough to continue copying myself, beyond myself, before dying and getting once more out of the way. No other purpose apparent. No better objective reason to be. I just am. Finding myself suddenly one day here and alive—from nothing which was me before. And I will live until that which I am winds down again—to a nothing which will never be me again.
We each cannot remember What we were not before we were Which is likely what we will not be again When we are done being what we are now
I can alllllmost remember the nothing... It is like a void of sorts in the line of time before I was born, or conceived. But even this nothing is contrived, like time in a story of fiction; something clearly made up which we willingly fool ourselves is real—for though the time before I was alive was seemingly real indeed, it is simply a believed fiction to me who was never there, and who does accept the story based on the persuasion of parents and teachers, as well as the evidence of society, libraries, museums and the cherished heirlooms of consensus that what is went on before I was ever here. I do not mean to suggest the past was never real—only that it was never real to me who was never there; like the future beyond my own death, which is another place and time I can never know, though I can believe it will be true. So, the nothing which I was and the nothing which I will again become—strange idea that..."becoming nothing"—exist in a past and a future which I can never know, which is a fiction of sorts to me at least. And it is into this fiction where some of us smuggle forever.
Forever rescues us from oblivion—but only in the future, as the past denies us forever like a closed and sealed door. Yet the future welcomes any tale we wish to believe. And so we tell ourselves stories: of providence, of love, of salvation, of forever, of reunion, and of peace. And every story we say fits perfectly into an open hole which is open because it is not real. It's a perfect fit! Our contrived salvation and immortality sit just so within the emptiness of the time beyond our death. How grand it will be! And how fortunate we are! To be ones who know of the truth, and can pass this bastard thing of our life like a hard day with a head cold, knowing relief from suffering is at hand just as soon as the sun goes down, and we go to sleep, and then awaken to the sunrise of a new day. How desperate we become to sleep the night away.
Those are nice stories to be sure. And a good balm and relief from the anxiety of the unknown. But stories they are. Like the words children tell themselves alone and in bed in the night, with the covers drawn over their heads, imagining somewhere and sometime beyond darkness and the strange sounds elsewhere in the room. And so, the night may pass thus tucked in against the dark, mumbling convincing prayers and "hallelujah, We Shall rise"—passing minutes and hours of restless sleep and awake, 'till the night is done and we move on into the unknown which we call our known.
Or we might just say "I don't know" and "it seems like nothing awaits to me" and then get on with this one life we seem to have to enjoy, and to suffer, and to build upon, and to fail within, and to know others, and to be rejected, and to find peace, and to suffer, and to live.
Pull now the covers from our face. Look square into the growling dark. Get out of bed into the cold night. Walk, stumble, become lost and find until our finding days are done.
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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