I was about to get ready for bed and something I was watching reminded me that I’m 30 and that my time is finite. And suddenly, for the first time in my life, I felt anxiety over the passing of time and inevitable death.

I imagined myself as an old man, desperate and unable to duplicate the current standards – physically, mentally, and emotionally – that I currently maintain.  I envisioned myself gray, wrinkled, desperate, and alone. I saw myself with the crowning bald spot I’ve somehow managed to avoid thus far. I felt the restrictions of mortality. My head felt light, and something inside of me made me want to cry out. I restrained myself.

Then I stopped myself and made the effort to think about anything else. Suddenly, my entire life up until that point had seemed so much better, despite the struggles with weight, depression, alcoholism (and recovery), anxiety, uncertainty, and loneliness. I felt like I’d been ruined by this…not revelation, but realization. During the course of what could not have been more than a minute, I wished for that time that seemed like an eternity ago when I hadn’t thought of myself as…temporary. I thought of the comfort one must feel in believing in an afterlife and realized it’s this fear that must carry a person when they talk about reliance on faith as they face an acknowledged end point. That’s not me, though. I’m an Atheist now and I always will be.

Strangely, it was that which ultimately took me out of that episode and brought me snapping back into reality or comfort or whatever you want to call it. It was the realization that I’m here now, I won’t be here at one point, and my inevitable death means I won’t have to be worried about things. I won’t have the capability for regret or to wish I’d be able to remain, because I’ll simply be gone. I won’t regret or feel remorse because it won’t be possible.

I continue to find it soothing as I write this. Not in any self-destructive or suicidal way. If anything, just the opposite.

At the end (hopefully a long way off) I’ll know, as long as I make the effort to remember, that this one time late at night as I was about to go to sleep, I realized I’d one day be at the brink of death and not fear it, because I’d had the astronomical luck of existing in the first place. So long as my memory doesn’t perish, or if someone is there to remind me, I’ll remember that being in the moment was a gift – given by nothing and no one save circumstance, but a gift none the less – and that I’ll never, ever, have the capability to regret its passing.



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