To My Future Children

I was recently listening to a song and thought of you. I won’t share the song, because I know that you will never like the music I like, unless for some reason vintage makes an eighteenth comeback. The lyrics were more important though:

From adulthood, no one’s getting out alive.

We often talk about surviving childhood, and surviving adolescence. No one talks about surviving adulthood.

Maybe it’s just my getting older, but I think more about death. It’s funny that I say this, because I’m sure when you’re my age, you’ll realize how young I was when I wrote this. You’ll also have your own twenty-six years of experience and perspective, and hopefully realize how old I am too. It’s sad how long it takes us to take ourselves seriously, after years of being told we’re ‘too young’ to understand certain things. Whatever age you are in reading this, know that your emotions and opinions are as valid as they ever have been, or ever will be.

I will say this plainly, so that you can hear it: if you can achieve it, your lack of discomfort with death will cause the feeling in others. The absence of your fear will create theirs. Your work to accept the only guaranteed reality of life–death–will be alarming, even alienating. Strangely though, you’ll find inner peace if you can accept death as a reality now. It will insulate you against a great terror which we all must encounter at some point. Better to get it over with, accept it now, pull off the band-aid, and move on with life (until it ends).

Then again by the time you read this, we may be ‘living forever,’ in some digital place where our consciousness can exist in perpetuity… but then wouldn’t it be horrible to live forever with the human patterns of miscommunication? Avoidance and confusion and misinterpretation aren’t guaranteed to go away simply because we remove the physical confines of our bodies. Human nature, even if not in a human body, is still who we are, and how we define ourselves.

Regardless, accept that some day you may no longer exist. Your consciousness as it exists within your physical body in its current state will one day fail to be, and this constraint will give you great motivation: to do amazing things, to change the world, to overcome great obstacles. As long as you feel the pressure of a final deadline by which your life’s to-do list must be done (not the life anyone tells you that you should have, not even me), you will work toward doing the things on the list. You will throw yourself from planes and scale great mountains; you’ll find joy in small flowers blooming in early Spring and the crunch of falling leaves in Autumn; and you’ll see the world as a precious thing which you must both devour (with your eyes) and protect (with the rest of your body). You will strive to find meaning in life, so that you can find peace as you approach death.

And even if they figure out a way that we’re all living forever, pretend you will die. Feel the finite nature of your current state, and let it spur you to great heights. Be the change you wish to see in the world, so that as your world ends, you can feel fulfilled.

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