I used to be a Christian some good years ago, but it was mostly self denial. It all came from me being a compulsive liar, and if you manage to fool yourself then other people are no problem. Deep inside I had no reason to believe any word that came out of the Holy Babble, a preacher's mouth or the ramblings of a TV show host were true - but I continued to drink the Kool Aid. Being able to get rid of all that wasn't all that painful, just a matter of picking the correct pill for once and figuring out the matrix. For that, I am grateful for not going through a hailstorm of self-doubt and agonizing over a possible afterlife.
In the end, I never really feared death. Watching lots of documentaries on TV, especially those of a medical sort, I learned that death is the inevitable outcome of all our lives. We can delay it, make it more comfortable, or choose to meet it head-on, or stumble across it by pure chance. The events leading to death are rarely of our own choosing and frankly that's what scares me more than death itself. I watched my grandmother and her sister die before me, succumbing to a vegetative state and severe mental illnesses respectively, all while I was still in middle school and was supposed to be their secondary caretaker. The upside to this, however, was the fact that it definitely helped lessen the impact of their eventual deaths. Seeing a loved one gradually lose their minds was nothing more than a drawn-out death and in the end they were nothing more than corpses vaguely resembling people I once used to care deeply about. However, if they had died in a sudden accident offering me no time for a mental self-prepping, I doubt I would've taken it as well. That's a ironic subtext of death - what may be preferable for the dying person is sometimes opposed to what would be best for their loved ones who have to carry on. Just like in the old saying of "When we are born, we're crying and everyone around us is laughing. When we die, we should be smiling despite everyone else crying", not all will view the event in the same light. For myself, I'd hate to have a drawn-out and painful death, succumb to severe mental illness, be kept alive by machines or in a vegetative state. I think that going out peacefully in my sleep or painless and clean suicide after a happy life would be best for me - but what of my friends? I don't want to cause them too much grief, but then again, the death of someone you care about is never completely painless.
I've been awfully close to death, complete with the NDA
and it didn't leave me with a ubermega Carpe Diem hedonistic risk-taking mindset entirely because of what I felt at that crucial moment. I wasn't scared at all, but rather accepting and slightly amused with a pinch of curiosity to whether I was right about any afterlife. Essentially just a "So that was life. Pretty cool, if you ask me. Would be neat to see if anything comes next". I came to the realization that I was right in assuming I had a good quality of life. My parents were (and still are) an abusive dickhead and asskissing enabler, I've never been in anything more than unrequited love, never accomplished any groundbreaking feats at the ripe ol' age of 16, but that didn't imply it was horrible. So what about my parents? If all goes well, I'll be graduating from high school next summer, moving on to university and emigrating with a piece of paper saying "Computer Engineer" next to my name. Can't claim to have had True Love(TM)
, but at (nearly) 18, there's not many who have. I've got close friends and it's terribly easy to find someone drunk and/or desperate enough to sleep with me, plus time is on my side. Not finding a cure for cancer so far does suck, but that's a high bar to reach, especially since my calling isn't in medical research. Since then I've gotten decent grades, kept up with my studies and nearly went on to the national phase of an English grammar and writing contest
and barring any unforeseeable events, my dream of emigrating will come true in 5 years. Despite this, no, rather specifically because of this, I wouldn't mind dying tomorrow if it wasn't painful. Sure, it would be cool if I lived longer, but in this matter quality means more than quantity and I'd rather die a happy 20 year old than a 80 year old who's been struggling with an untreatable disease for the last 60 years.
There's no inherent purpose of life, and that's precisely the beauty of it: you can pick whatever the hell you want! Finding romance, friends, raising children, having a career, travelling, creating art, helping the less fortunate, political activism, playing video games, writing smutty fanfiction, putting together the best lint collection or whatever you can think of. The only thing that matters is that you choose it for yourself and not blindly follow the words written on a paper or said by someone else. And if you ever come to the point where you feel like you might change your goals, more power to you! Remember that humans are inherently selfish. Even the most charitable action still has a component of self-satisfaction and that your own happiness is all that matters in the end. I don't mean it as a "fuck everyone else, you're #1!", but rather that the goal should be maximizing your happiness while minimizing the suffering of others. There's no way you can go through life without having someone dislike or hate you - hell, people on the street might hate you for what you look like or who you spend your time with - but you definitely can try to be less of an asshole. In the end, I think that's the only Purpose Of Life(TM)
Now, I highly doubt the existence of any afterlife, be it Heaven, Valhalla, Nirvana
or anything of the sort. However, that doesn't mean you can't leave a mark on the world. Even if I don't find the aforementioned cancer cure, I've still been a good friend and armchair therapist to people. I've greatly helped a stranger start her career, enough to warrant her dropping all composure to frantically hug me and kiss my cheeks in celebration. I've helped homeless and abused pets. I've helped people go through dark times and inspired others. When I do kick the bucket I want whatever organs are still in a good condition to go towards other people that are still walking the earth, with the rest of me going into research if possible. My friends will reminiscence the times we've had, my enemies will attempt to take a dump on my hypothetical grave. If I publish a good book, it'll continue being printed. The lucky bastards inheriting my possessions will probably not mind it either. If you ask me, that thought is infinitely more comforting than spending an eternity kissing a celestial dictator's asscheeks, one who'd be perfectly fine with me spending the same eternity in perpetual torment because I ate some foods the wrong days of the week, loved the wrong person and dared using the incredible rationality he gave me.
Ranting aside, I've been part of the universe for a long time and will continue to be. My atoms were created in the stars themselves, some of them with a high chance of being part of a wholly different person. The day I die is when they'll continue their cycle, possibly until after the human race and the planet have died out. This, combined with the sheer size of the universe leave me in awe of life - how insignificant we are, yet special in a way. The universe is truly complex, and I feel that any attempt to simplify it by saying A Wizard Did It throws out all that out the window.
As a closing thought on this TL;DR rant, let say that I don't regret any event that has transpired. I, as a person, exist only because of the sum of events that have transpired until the present, good or bad. This geocentricism leads me to believe that if anything had been different then "I" would be an entirely different person, if it could be called "me". For example, if I had not watched an ungodly amount of cartoons in English, I never would have learned the language. The internet, movies, books and songs wouldn't be as open to me, therefore contributing considerably less to the development of my worldview. To a more radical example, if Romania hadn't been a communist hellhole, my mother would've been aborted. We wouldn't have been a communist hellhole if not for the socio-economical conditions following WW2. WW2 wouldn't have happened without the events following the end of WW1 and so forth. So let's all have an e-cheer for all the good and bad that happened in the world, every war and natural calamity, every act of kindness and compassion, literally every event that happened up to this point, because without them who knows how we could have been as persons?