Monday, January 7, 2013

Words to Live and Die by

I met Molly, a delightful octogenarian atheist, at a weekly philosophy seminar I’ve been attending. While chatting with her she proffered this wonderful phrase:

  “I don’t want my soul saved, I want to spend it.”

Not just some throwaway line, Molly lives that motto to the fullest. It’s her creed, her modus operandi, her reason for living. The more I thought about it the more I realized how marvelously profound it is.

Molly patently rejects the supernaturalist’s promise of life after death, of a “soul” that lives on in some ephemeral state of constant praise and worship to some egotistical boogieman. She doesn’t want any part of some canned-corn childlike concept of living forever in some bodiless condition dangled before her as some kind of carrot reward for self delusion and denial or reality.

Molly lives her life to the max, even in her declining years and with great effort just to be ambulatory. She commits herself to spending her remaining life term expanding her knowledge; establishing new friendships; exchanging ideas; experiencing new challenges. To do less would be to squander the only life she’s banked on. She’s not going to let anything get in the way of exhausting every asset of the life she inherited, and plans to leave not one cent of it behind. Words to live and die by.

Humans are thought to be the only life form that can contemplate their own death. I have many times and in various circumstances: In combat; when diagnosed with cancer many years ago; after a close call while driving; or while empathizing with a friend or loved one whose relative was facing imminent death. On all of those occasions I never once contemplated what happens after that final act. Never fretted over “what’s next?” Never had a moment’s concern about what’s in store, what it will be like, where am I going and do I deserve it? Fact is, fear of death never enters my mind. To paraphrase Galileo: “I’ve loved the stars too fondly to be frightened by the dark.”

Now, fear of the actual process of dying…well, that’s a whole ‘nuther matter. It’s rare for the act of dying, the causal factor, to be a pleasurable experience. If it was, people would be dying to die. Thus, I tend to avoid dying like I avoid the plague. But I’ll waste not one precious second of this one and only life worrying about what happens when the light is switched off and I slip into oblivion. I’ve seen what happens to dead animals and vegetation and I’m fine with that. I’m just dyin’ to become star stuff ...but then, we all are, no matter how much the religionists, New Agers, and mystics hope and pray otherwise.

Let those who buy into the Ponzi scheme of death avoidance squander their precious bankroll of life groveling before statues, and praising their imaginary benefactor. Like Molly, I’ll have invested a lifetime in my existence and I plan to spend it all.


Anonymous said...

Well said! I subscribe to the same philosophy. As somebody said: "Life is not a journey to the grave with the
intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body,

but rather to skid in broadside, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming -- WOW-- What a Ride!" And when it's done, it's done.

Dromedary Hump said...

Heheheh!! Perfect!

stone said...

Could you share crazy things that x-tians have told you, like announcements of marriage to jebus

Dromedary Hump said...

Perhaps I'll make it a future blog article. There are so many and they are so bizarre, it boggles the mind.

Kris said...

Why not have the best of both worlds... that is live your life to the fullest while still having dreams of other worlds beyond the grave?

paul said...

Hooray for Molly! As one who is only a few years behind her in age and experience, I'm dismayed by the fact that so many of my generation lack the wisdom to abandon their imaginary friend in the sky, and all the baggage that goes with it. The vast majority of atheists are under the age of 45, but the good news is that they are the octogenarians of the future, and they will be raising their offspring without the crippling effects of blind superstition.

Perhaps there is hope, after all.

Dromedary Hump said...

Paul...there is hope indeed.
Molly is truly an inspiration.

Kris... because to thinking people a moment spent day dreamng about a make believe afterlife to sooth ones fears , is a moment of life wasted.
Life and time is too valuable to sell it short with fantasy.
But to each ones own.

NewEnglandBob said...

Molly's practice is wonderful. The funny part of it all is that the more she 'spends', the more it just increases and there is more for her to spend. It is not a bottomless pit, but a topless high.

Carl said...

Well said! I can't fathom why anyone would spend their whole life living a lie and spending it all on something they will never have.

Gerard26 said...

What a marvellous way of looking at life,thanks Molly and Hump for passing it on.