Thursday, January 25, 2007

The End of Consciousness

The funeral last weekend got me to ruminate on something I used to obsess about: death. When I was growing up, the thought that I'd cease to exist one day scared the hell out of me -- often to the point of paralysis. Of course, I first had to grasp the concept before I could be scared by it.

I remember with vivid clarity the moment I came to understand what it means to die. I was at a church camp in Huntsville during the summer between third and fourth grade. (When my family first got to the States, we went to church regularly. Being Buddhist didn't mesh with the fabric of our Americanized social circle. Let's put aside my current views on religion for another day.) At one of the morning Bible study sessions, the topic of discussion was the concept of heaven and what happens to your soul when you die. The whole thing just didn't make sense to me.

That night, I attended a mixer that was really intended for older kids. I felt out of place and went outside with one of my buddies -- a buddy whose family attended church not to fit in but because they were believers. (Or so it seemed to me anyway.) I figured he must've understood the Bible study session that morning better than I did, so I asked him to explain what happens to us when we die. I found his response unsatisfying, and I must've let it show, because he took off and went back inside.

As I stood there on my own, I stared up at the sky and saw the many stars staring back at me. Just then, it hit me. I'm not going to be able to remember any of this one day. I won't be able to think anymore one day. I'm going to lose consciousness forever one day. That realization scared me, but it also angered me, because it all seemed so senseless.

I don't remember so vividly what happened next. But I do remember lying in bed many a night afterwards praying to a God whose existence I doubted for his grace in not letting me die.

An even more devastating moment came a few years later, when I learned that the sun would one day cease to shine. Before that moment, I took some solace in the thought that, even when you die, your legacy stays behind -- whether in the memories of others, in the things that you've written or in the form of your children. When I learned that the sun would one day cease to shine, I understood that, one day, the world would cease to exist. That realization seemed even more senseless than the realization that I'd die some day.

I suppose it's little coincidence that I eventually discovered and grew to admire Camus. As he puts it: "There is but one truly serious philosophical problem, and that is suicide." I guess, even as a kid, I was already an existentialist.


This just came to me. I wish I had my heavily marked-up copy of The Stanger handy so that I could insert direct quotes, but paraphrasing will have to do. (I lent that copy to my sister, which essentially means that I sent it into a black hole.)

While Meursault was in prison, an official became annoyed with his godlessness and demanded to know what he wanted in the afterlife. Meursault's response?

To remember this one.


dchen said...

as i kid (and even now), what really scared me about death was that my parents would not exist one day anymore... that used to keep me up at night all the time... now i have other sleeping problems unrelated to matters of life or death. (more like noise or stress)

Qing Cai said...

mac cosmetics
mac makeup
mont blanc
lacoste polo shirts
air jordan shoes
chanel handbags
burberry sale
kate spade outletstore
ray ban sunglasses
ed hardy clothing
michael kors outlet
tory burch outlet online
beats headphones
fitflop shoes
fred perry sale
coach outlet online
kate spade outletonline
coach outlet
beats by dre

Wenhao Guo said...

nike air max
chanel outlet
bottega veneta outlet
prada shoes
kobe bryant jersey
coach outlet store
fivefingers shoes
the north face outlet
nike free 5.0
nike outlet store
michael kors uk
north face jackets
north face outlet
kate spade outlet
chris paul jersey
barcelona football shirts
michael kors bags
hermes sale
supra shoes
giants jersey
real madrid jersey
north face jackets,north face,the north face,northface,north face outlet,north face jackets clearance,the north face
canada goose outlet
cheap nike shoes
tory burch handbags
oakley sunglasses wholesale
cleveland cavaliers jersey
blackhawks jersey
nike running shoes
spurs jersey
achang 0630

mao qiuyun said...

air max 2015kobe shoeshollister shirtskate spade uklongchamp outletmichael kors outletprada outletmbt shoesreplica watchestimberland shoesnike trainerscheap soccer jerseyschristian louboutin salegiuseppe zanotti outlettods shoescoach outletnhl jerseysmarc jacobs outlettrue religion jeans, http://www.truereligionjeanscanada.combottega veneta outletmichael kors outletoakleyherve leger dressesjordan 4ghdmulberry outletcoach outletfivefingers shoesconverse shoescheap soccer jerseysray banmichael kors ukmiami heat jerseyair jordan shoeschanel outletlouis vuitton outlettory burch shoes0821maoqiuyun

chenlina said...

kevin durant shoes 7
louis vuitton handbags
adidas nmd
nike trainers men
tiffany outlet
nike roshe run women
replica watches
pandora outlet
tod's shoes
oakley outlet
michael kors outlet
mont blanc fountain pens
louis vuitton bags
nike huarache
hollister uk
louis vuitton outlet
oakley sunglasses outlet
polo ralph lauren
replica rolex watches
nike roshe flyknit
jordan shoes
replica watches
jordan concords
timberland outlet
air jordan 13
michael kors outlet online
caoch outlet
kids lebron shoes
polo ralph lauren
air force 1
pandora jewelry
rolex submariner
cheap toms
ray ban sunglasses
hollister outlet
hollister clothing
michael kors handbags
michael kors handbags
nike air max 90
ray ban sunglasses

Meiqing Xu said...

christian louboutin shoes
louis vuitton outlet
michael kors bags
yeezy boost 350
beats by dre
yeezy boost
coach outlet
nike outlet
cheap nike shoes
pandora charms

林磊 said...

20170601 leilei3915
puma outlet
true religion outlet
asics shoes
coach outlet
ralph lauren polo
cheap oakley sunglasses
canada goose jackets
kate spade outlet online
mcm bag
coach outlet online