Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Particular Death

I have dedicated myself to working hard, but sometimes I don’t know what that means. I suppose it’s going to be a fact of life that I sit bolt upright at night sometimes scared as hell of death.

I don’t feel particularly unique in my fear of death. It’s a facet of life; the thing we keep in the back of our minds all the time. I realize how much it drives me though. Sometimes it drives me forward with a reckless abandon, a desire to consume everything around me.

Other times it takes the form of laziness; an incomplete thought stemming from another incomplete thought; the halted motions of a brain fighting its own machinations. And always lurking in the corners of one’s mind is the knowledge of death. For me it is an infinite black nothingness. The mind perishes, and with it, all of the information of a life lived.

But I suppose my ruminations on death are akin to asking a plant how it feels about death. Death is merely the transition of atoms and molecules to another state. Living beings are no more privileged to remain in this state than they are to transition to another state. I am a fool to cling to my molecules so greedily. Everything that is my body and mind will be replaced in a matter of years. Each atom passes through the body, a brick that makes a building. It holds it’s place for a time. Then leaves. Who I am is determined by something I cannot fathom and to take parts of it away must be death. Yet that is what happens every day. Parts of my mind come and go, fade in and out as if they were never there.

I guess that life is less a state of being and more a transition between two states for a particle. Life is a vehicle for transition; nothing more. I guess I wake up now, afraid of death, because particles burst forth in my brain full of life and realize the emptiness of entropy that will be a particle’s slow death.

The universe started about 13 billion years ago; and with it, every particle that will ever exist. I will live for hopefully 80 or so years. And a particle in my body will inhabit it for but a fraction of that time--5 to 10 years at most. After that, the particle may never inhabit a living being. It may drift in the cosmos for the next 100 billion years and never experience the struggle of a life-form.

Eventually the forces that hold it together will dissipate and it will be a lonely electron floating through space. Until the electron falls apart and only quarks remain. Tiny vibrations, once holding together the universe, stopped. This time, for eternity.