I woke up at 4 AM a few mornings, and nearly had a panic attack. I was thinking about death. I know that this won't come as a shock to most of you, but I don't believe that there is an afterlife. That means that when you die, you are dead. Like, there is nothing after death. That fact is really, really, depressing. In N years, I will cease to exist. We all will.
To me, this is sort of horrifying for the following reasons:
1. What is going to happen? What will my children be like? What about my grandchildren? What will cars be like? Will we ever get back to the moon? To Mars? Beyond? What is the world going to be like in 100 years? In 1000 years? I want to know. And I won't. Some of these I might know, but most of them, I won't. That is sad to me.
2. What is the point? If you are going to die anyways, what is the point to everything that we are doing? If you take a short view, it makes no real sense. If you knew you were going to die tomorrow, would you go to work today? I think not. What if it was next year? How long would you work for? At what point do you say screw it to work and go out and enjoy life? In many ways this isn't practical, because you have to eat; but it really says that you should do something that you love. Or, maybe take it a little less seriously. This is very hard to do, though.
3. You could take the selfish attitude and basically do all self-fulfilling stuff. Why not? If you are going to die anyways, why not just enjoy life to the fullest? On the other hand, by doing some work, we can make life more pleasant for people around us and for our children and their children. How do you balance your own happiness with the happiness of the people around you and your offspring?
I have been thinking about memories of people too. How long will I be remembered? I have not really done anything of substance in my life. My students will remember me for a while. My kids will obviously remember me for a long time. I publish papers. The oldest paper that I have ever referenced is probably from the 1960s, implying that papers before this are not really read very much, and that 30-40 years is the lifespan of even the most read papers. If grandchildren will be the longest lasting memory of me, then perhaps they will remember me about 30-40 years after I die. After that, who will ever even know that I existed? So, from birth to death, to the end of remembrance, a life-time is perhaps 100-130 years. Even with a headstone in a graveyard, the oldest ones are only 150-200 years old. After that, they are even too weathered to read. The people are completely gone. Once again, sad.
These are the thoughts that kept me awake. Actually, it was mostly that I am going to cease to exist. That scares the sh*t out of me.
Happy New Year!
2 months ago