What is it like to wake up and know that you are dying?
Updated: Mar 5
A little while ago I spoke to someone who was terminally ill, we got to a stage where we both felt comfortable. ‘So,’ I tried to delicately ask ‘What is it like to wake up every morning and know that you are dying?’ ‘Well,’ she responded, ‘What is it like to wake up every morning and pretend that you are not?’"
It hit me hard. It's a fact of life but some of us just more aware of the final date more than others.
We are all dying, every moment that passes of every day. That is the inescapable truth of this existence.
It's just not something I personally like to think about. A bit heavy for a Friday morning perhaps.
But blame my brother .. he is the one responsible for taking me down this rabbit hole.
He linked me to a youtube video called 'The Egg'. If you haven't heard of it, it's a short story written in 2009 by Andy Weir- I'd suggest a quick google search! Essentially, it's a commentary of the nature of human interactions and relationships after death and during life. It poses the question of what happens after death' and paints it in a really optimistic way.
What seems most subtly brilliant about 'The Egg' is the way it provides scaffolding for such an interesting take on a deep question.
In such a short story ( or my case a few minutes of the youtube video ) I was inspired to see that perhaps everything I've ever done that was selfless actually benefited a version of me.
As humans, we want to identify with people, feel love, explore the world, breathe the air. We are basically hard-wired to be happier being with other people and being out in the world. "The Egg" video just highlighted my recognition of this.
If you've ever read anything by Comte-sponville ( he's a French philosopher ) you'll know he puts some incredible descriptions down into words. He talks about this feeling of oneness which he calls
'The oceanic feeling'
It's similar to walking in the woods with your friends on a summer evening and looking up at the stars at feeling like more than yourself.
There's also a super cheesy scene in the Perks of Being a Wallflower when Charlie and his friends race through the night in their car and say they feel 'infinite'
According to everything I've read by Comte-sponville
This is exactly this 'oneness of the universe' that makes life 'worth living' and forget that, every day we wake up and pretend we are not dying.
It's probably the trickiest part to wrap your head around.
Love of fate, loving what is - not because it is good, but because it is the set of all things that occur and because nothing else exists... that is the tragic wisdom. In other words, to me, life is everything.
No one really knows for sure, what happens when your heart stops pumping blood for that final time, there are things out there that we just cannot comprehend even though we give it a good go.
A little deep... I told you. But if this isn't a reason to live every day as though it's your last and tell your family and friends you love them - then I don't know what is.