One day, maybe, I will write something happy. Or, at least recognized as happy by the general populace. I get quite a bit of comfort from topics like this. Knowing that I will die, just like everyone I know, gives me some comfort in knowing that I will do something seen as normal in my life.
What do I mean by ‘everyone dies’? Well, just that! I do not mean that in a defeatist or dower way: there is absolutely no point in giving up all because there is an end. That’s like watching a TV show all the way but not sitting through the last episode because then it ends. There is a difference between acknowledging an end and giving up to an end.
By giving up to an end, you are ending your life before you see the ending. It pains me to think of how many amazing things could have been accomplished if, let’s say Bob, just accepted that he would die and did that amazing thing. Bob, in this example, is a defeatist. He sees an end and, instead of doing something with the time he has left, lies down and gives up. He just remains a husk until his end. He will probably spend his last moments thinking about how he should have done so much more.
That is in contrast to, let’s call her, “Cindy”. She knows that she will die one day, and tries to make sure that the world is exactly the way she wants it. She creates art she wants to see. She does her part to fight injustice. She spends her last moments thinking about how she could have done more, but ultimately did as much as she could.
To abuse the old meme: Cindy is smart. Be like Cindy.
Death is an end. I’m not going to pretend that it’s not, and I’m not going to create a bunch of false platitudes. Regardless of whether you believe in Heaven, Hell, or reincarnation: you (the “you” that you are) does not exist anymore. There is nothing daunting or depressing about that fact. Everything ends, and death is the event that we all face. It gives meaning to us, as a species.
Neil Gaiman in his graphic novel The Sandman did a fantastic narrative arc where a man lived forever. He was visited over a period of 1000 years, and went through different stages of grief. Initially, he felt invincible. Then, he spoke of the horrors of having to bury everyone he loved. In the end, it showed how shallow and meaningless his life had become while he delved into a life of superficial attachment and arrogance. I read that story about a decade ago and it has become a crucial part of my outlook since that day.
I guess I should make an ultimate point after offloading a series of truths which may, or may not, disturb you. I really can only point out how now is all that matters, in the end. Yes, the world will continue. Lives will be lived and lost after you die. Social change like #BLM and the political stife hitting the USA right now are going to be around forever. I am being optimistic when I say that fewer than 10% of you reading this will actually change something, and not 1% will change everything. That does NOT mean you shouldn’t try. Total change starts with the masses. Don’t be afraid to be a face in the crowd. As a performer, I can attest that masses are important. Without an audience, there can be no change.
If you cannot be a creator of change, be the audience that wants it.