PHUKET: Death has received very bad press. Nobody has a good word to say about it, and everybodyís afraid of it. Fairness requires that somebody should point out the good points of this much-maligned condition.
Iím told that death can significantly impact your life. Itís a tricky topic to write about, because nobody knows what itís like. It may be one big long sleep. We get a foretaste of it every night. Nobody is afraid of sleep. Most of us enjoy it. I certainly do. I sleep all the time. I am sleeping as I write this Ė you can probably tell Ė so why do we fear death?
Well, itís because death, so far as we know, lasts forever. We donít fear sleep because we know weíll wake up. We donít wake up from death. I wouldnít mind being dead for a few days, or even a few weeks. It would be a nice vacation. But to keep me dead for all eternity seems an unreasonable imposition on my time.
Many people believe in an afterlife, but convincing evidence is hard to come by. The afterlife, taught by some religions, sounds wonderful Ė an eternal idyll in the gardens of paradise Ė but it goes on forever. Most people would be bored silly after two weeks.
The idea of reincarnation, too, is a dreary prospect. If you could remember the lessons you learned in this life, so as to do better in the next life, there might be some chance of making progress. But if you donít remember anything you have to start all over again from scratch. The whole business seems pointless, especially because itís an unending cycle.
The idea of death as an eternal sleep makes sense, and it has advantages that nobody thinks of. You donít have to get up in the morning. You donít have to shave. You donít have to go to work. You donít even have to mow the lawn.
The main advantage is that you donít need anything. You might think about phoning out for a pizza, but, hey, youíre dead. You donít have a mouth, you donít have a stomach. What would you do with a pizza? There would also be the awkwardness of paying the delivery man, because you donít have any money either.
You might want to see a movie. With what eyeballs, pray? You might want to listen to music. With what ears? You donít have a body, so you canít do anything. You donít have a brain, so you canít even WANT to do anything. Itís an ideal setup.
In fact, death is such a splendid condition that I canít understand why everybody isnít eager to embrace it immediately. Aside from the personal advantages, thereís an altruistic motive. The planet is overpopulated; there are too many of us. Weíd be doing the rest of our species a favor by selflessly sacrificing ourselves and getting out of the way. You first.
Ye Olde Curmudgeon confesses that heíll probably want to phone out for a pizza even after heís dead. You can scold him for this inconsistency c/o firstname.lastname@example.org.