For the past two weeks, I have been spending a lot of time thinking about the end of my life. Not ending my life, but the concept of eternity and immortality. 

As time goes on I find myself slowly drifting further away from agnosticism and find more comfort in the rationale of atheism. For someone who was raised as a conservative evangelical, there's extreme comfort in knowing that I have a family that absolutely supports my deep seeded urge to find answers for myself, rather than blindly following an outdated book. The interesting part, however, is as I find answers to certain questions, new questions come up. These questions aren't based on the discrepancies of life and a narrow pathway, not even a little. These new questions are founded on my insatiable appetite for knowledge, rooted out of a never ending curiosity.

Contemplating suicide made me think about death as a solution to the problem of life. Atheism forces me to refocus my perspective, and I now think about death in a question that asks "What value will others find in my contributions?" It seems like a foolish question to ask because ultimately when I die, I won't give half a damn about the opinion others have on me. My consciousness stops and their morality equates in value to the air I won't be breathing. But while I'm still above ground, I constantly think about what impact I can make. To help give myself some clarity, I went to a local cemetery on Friday to see how others chose to leave their mark.

When I was 19, I would go to cemeteries all the time. They were peaceful, they provided a quiet place for me to think, and it was always interesting to see how squirrels and ducks have no reverence for the dead. Every single person has a story, but it's up to you to interpret what they wanted out of life based on the stone that they carved their name into.

This marker intrigued me. James was listed on one side, and his wife was on the opposite. More often than not, when I see headstones that are for married couples, their names are etched side by side. Curious what their relationship could have looked like from the outside, knowing that in death they only allow you to focus your attention on them as individuals, and not as a union.

In stark contrast, it's blatantly obvious how this husband felt for his wife.

This was one of my favorites. A large part of me thinks he understood the concept of immortality. This is a man who was born almost 130 years ago on the other side of the world, and I can tell you exactly what his face looks like. Photography in the early 1900's was not as casual as it is today, so having the foresight to leave your likeness where you are buried was incredibly bold.

I've been reading the satanic bible. Not out of interest in demonology or the occult, but as a way to find answers to questions that were never answered growing up. I found that in traditional Christianity, you were never encouraged to read about other religions, but instead to trust and have faith that your own belief is the correct one. The pentagram has always had religious significance, but it has been significant in multiple religions throughout centuries. What did Irene believe. or rather, what didn't she believe?

Religious iconography was everywhere to be seen. It gives you a sense that in life, people really want to believe that there's more to life than just breathing oxygen. They want to know that when the darkness starts to take over, there will be a light at the end with a comforting figure awaiting them. They want to share that sense of hope with their loved ones. They want to feel like there is a better place waiting for them.

The more money you have in life, the larger plot you can have in death. But in death, only the dead can be your neighbors that keep you company. From my perspective, this was the most lonesome plot I walked past. 

When I walked up to this marble bench, I assumed that the book that was on the backrest had biblical verses carved into it, but I was wrong. Instead, it was a love note. Was their motivation to have their children and grandchildren take a seat and feel like they were all together in spirit or was it a place for others to simply sit and find comfort?

I must have missed Harold's family by a few hours. It was his birthday, and there were fresh flowers and a picture that had recently been laminated that had been placed at this grave. I think most people take comfort in the notion that their family will find a reason to visit them once they are gone. 

Eventually though, are we all forgotten? Do people stop taking care of the ground you are buried in? Will you no longer be able to read the inscriptions due to overgrowth, or will people stop reading it all together?

Now, I have never been an advocate of being buried. My opinion is that you should take whatever useful parts I have left and give them to those in need, let the rest be scorched and scattered. I may have a slightly callous opinion given the fact that I am taking every possible precaution to not have children. I don't want to leave a family tree behind that carries the burden of obligation to remember me. I don't think my legacy needs to be carved in stone because once the reputation I make of myself fades, my relevance goes with it. People will remember me for who I was to them in their own lifetimes, not as a hunk of marble in centuries to come.

So my perspective has changed. I look at my own life with a perspective that realizes how insignificant I am in the grand scheme of the universe. Instead, I want my legacy to be what I do with my waking days and how I can make the waking days of others better. The betterment of others provides a level of fulfillment that cannot be compared with anything else I have experienced. 

I realize that I'm an exception to the rule, but I really do enjoy spending my time deep in thought on the topic of death. The more I focus on it, the more I realize that I still have things to accomplish before it's my time to fade out.


Chris BentleyComment