One of the first things I learned after I bought my motorcycle was to always watch my rear when stopped at a traffic light. I would keep the bike in gear and look in my mirrors to make sure the car behind me was slowing down to a stop. If not, I would be ready to maneuver out of the way. Getting rear ended on a motorcycle is so dangerous for the rider that it’s a simple precaution you take to stay safe. But I never do that in my car, and I don’t know anyone who does.
Three years ago I met Jen through a friend of mine. We developed a rapport where I would give her advice, especially on how to get this one guy she really liked. She was always very kind to me. Eventually I lost touch with her and she pursued a graduate degree to become a therapist.
On Thursday night she was sitting in her car at a red light. Her passenger was a guy she just started dating. A drunk driver did not see the traffic light and plowed into her car, killing both her and her date.
It’s inevitable that a lot of people will tell her family that she is “in a better place now.” Unfortunately she is not. Everything that you are, that makes you you, and gives you this state of consciousness to know that you are a different being from everything else on the planet, resides in your brain. Once you die and the cells in your brain die, it’s game over. The only good part about dying, I guess, is that you will never know you are dead. It will be just like before you were born. If you don’t make the history books or leave a collection of written works, you will live on in the memories of those who were close to you until they die themselves. And even if you do leave a legacy, you will never know the impact you made. No matter how happy or fulfilling of a life you live, or how rich or poor you become, it will end the same for all of us. We should all be grateful of consciousness, but cursed by it as well. I have never known real suffering, but knowing your existence will end can’t be far from it.
The more I become a student of life, the harder it is to come to the conclusion that a supreme being is guiding the course of man with a meaningful grand plan. Our lives are governed more by random events, by statistical probabilities, than something that leads to a final purpose. In the cosmic scale of things, our lives are not even a blink of the eye. If life was a chess match, not only would we not be the pieces, but we would barely be the speck of dust on the chess board itself. While our lives have no real meaning, this consciousness makes us believe that we are special, enough to keep us alive and continue life for the next generation. That’s all life is. Jen had 24 years of life and I’m sure she gave it the best she could, but I know she didn’t expect to go so soon. If she was in one lane over, she would be alive right now. If such a trivial decision decides whether two human beings continue their existence or not, life definitely cannot be that important.