Not That Important

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.

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HeidiChick
13 years ago

Amen Brother.

Sorry to hear that news.

KassyK
13 years ago

Great post. 🙂

Anonymous
Anonymous
13 years ago

Jen that worked with you?

Stephen (VA)
Stephen (VA)
13 years ago

In my junior year at Georgia Tech, I took on class on the rherotic of economics. In that class was a bright, attractive, happy girl named Molly. In that first day of class, Molly broke down crying when Prof Z called on her (necessitating her participation in class discussion). It turns out Molly feared public speaking.

Prof Z, and the rest of the class, was supportive. As the semester went by, Molly got to be comfortable answering Prof Z’s questions, and then to debating with other students. We (her and I) even had quite the rousing conversation at the local coffeehouse one night, involving alot of other people in a debate. This was something that 3 months prior, she would not have been able to do.

At the end of the semester, Molly was going home when he car suffered a freak control failure, and she slammed into a tree, killing her. As Molly and I were somewhat close, I went down to her funeral, and, overcome by emotion, had to leave before the ceremony ended. Dead bodies freak me out, but something else didn’s settle well.

A year prior, I had been involved in a freak control failure accident heading to Austin, TX. However, myself and my friend survived without injury, despite the car splitting in two.

Why does one survive and another die? Either you attribute no meaning at all, or you attribute meaning. I think when you lose someone, you want to think it meaningless, especially at such a young age. I think that when you miraculously survive, you want to treat it as meaningful.

Be as it may that we are sand specks on the beach, our lives are still important, and still meaningful, even when they are ended much too shortly. To suggest otherwise would be an acceptance of living of life of nothing-ness, since nothing would matter in that worldview.

Molly died, but her life wasn’t unimportant. 17 strangers bonded over her triumph against her fears, and those 17 people in some ways learned how to combat theirs. Heartbroken, but resolved, Molly’s sister came to GaTech the next year, and helped by 17 strangers she did not know, she flourished at Tech. I believe she graduated by now, and that is a very loud testimonial to the indominability of the human spirit.

Anonymous
Anonymous
13 years ago

Life is like currency… a dollar bill is really just a piece of paper unless people believe it has meaning.

MORPHEUS
MORPHEUS
13 years ago

We all live in a matrix dude. Right now your real body is on a spaceship cruising the worlds sewers. You have friends there, don’t be fooled. When your phone rings, pick it up and you’ll see what i’m talking about….

Prozac Jones
Prozac Jones
13 years ago

Death is Certain, Life is Not………

Anonymous
Anonymous
13 years ago

Read Mere Christianity. It is the “thinking” man’s book to the grand question of life after death. Step by step logic from one of the greatest philosphers of all time, C.S. Lewis.

Recovering Overachiever

Sorry to hear about your friend.
You raise a lot of really interesting questions. Great post.

dcdevel
dcdevel
13 years ago

I hear you on both counts: I’ve had both friends and family die suddenly AND been rear-ended on a motorbike (carrying a passenger too). In the case of the rear end, not only was nobody hurt but I didn’t even drop the bike. What’s this mean? Absolutely nothing; when your number is up it’s up, and yes, it totally sucks. Does this imply there’s no meaning in life and it’s not important? No. It’s as important as you the individual make it. Is it sometimes random? Yes. The fact that you’re blogging about her shows she’s made an impression on at least on other person (you), and that person cared about her. That’s important.

yoda
yoda
13 years ago

Deep like, ssssooooooooooooo that was.

Roissy
Roissy
13 years ago

life is a chaos of nothing with no meaning other than to fuck.
there is no purpose.
there is no magical karmic retribution.
there is no grand plan.
if there is a god he is an indifferent voyeur at best and a cruel malevolent sithlord at worst.

“when your number is up it’s up”

you can reduce your chances of your number being up by not driving. lessee, how many americans died in iraq since the start of the war? 2500? now how many americans died in cars in the past year alone?
40 fucking thousand.
the average person is more afraid of snakes and spiders than driving because we have not had enough time co-evolving with cars to acquire a proper fear and respect of them as well.

Der Mac
Der Mac
5 years ago
Reply to  Roissy

Did you bother to count the number of Iraqis? What people should be is afraid of the puppets pulling the Americans’ strings.

Tampa
Tampa
13 years ago

The debate is this world really all centers around a guy named Jesus….and did he actually rise from the dead.. Most of the other stuff you read about the navigations and trials are actually true. The guy was here. The guy did do things. They had 6-8 guys who wrote about him. He was tried and crucified. The only argument is over whether he rose from the dead. That is really the backbone of the christian faith. If he did — there is a supreme being. If he didn’t — they were all just a bunch of pot smoking — trippin hippies. I guess you will know when the car slams into the back of you. You can’t really fear death. It is life’s ultimate common denominator. I do like to think that someone magical created this incredible planet. Its really hard for me to believe that those great oceans — those huge mountains… the symphoney of the seasons all just happened in a “big bang.” If you look around and just observe the magical musical of mankind it is quite breathtaking. Hard to imagine it just being a coincidence.

But then again – -I am no priest.

Namaste
13 years ago

None of us expect it to go so soon. I’m very sorry about your friend.

V
V
13 years ago

First, I’m really sorry to hear about your friend. That’s awful.

Second, I have been thinking more and more about this topic. I agree with Marx that religion is the opiate of the people, and it’s scary that many people live their lives thinking that as long as they adhere to whatever rules someone said thousands of years ago, they’ll be fine. Just seems like a waste.

I’m not saying I am really living my life as someone who knows this is all I’ve got, but it’s certainly a goal. I also wonder what the world would look like if most people weren’t tethered to beliefs that their actions will matter later? Not sure if things would be better?maybe not different at all?

Joe T.
Joe T.
13 years ago

This shit is too deep for me, man…

Tampa
Tampa
13 years ago

Ever seen a man without a concious? without a moral compass? Its almost disgusting. Go to a courthouse and watch a trail of a violent offender. It is just soul-less to look at a man that cares about nobody but himself. It is almost sad.

Religion is more then a traffic light keeping everything in order. Human beings are a lot smarter then most people realize and if they thought it was a bill of goods — they wouldn’t buy it.

I just have to believe that there is a moral compass. Nothing is sadder then seeing a man with no soul.

Anonymous
Anonymous
13 years ago

tampa=moron
please take your magic-man-in-the-sky beliefs elsewhere

Stephen (VA)
Stephen (VA)
13 years ago

Anonymous, you sure added something valuable to this post.

Whether you’re religious or not, what works for you is not necessarily what works for others. If a belief in God helps someone get through the day, enjoy life a little bit more, etc, then so be it. If not believing in a God for someone does the same thing, so be it.

It’s a personal decision. Why insult it?

eugenius
eugenius
13 years ago

good post

Veggie Food
Veggie Food
13 years ago

well done, as usual.

Lou P.
13 years ago

Excellent post. I’m sorry to hear about your friend.

Ned
Ned
13 years ago

life’s an illusion, baby

V
V
13 years ago

Wow, Tampa, that might be one of the most narrow minded comments I’ve ever read.

I like it that you assume only the religious have a moral compass or conscience or that violent people aren’t religious (have you read the new testament?). Selfishness is not exclusive to those people who don’t believe there is a god presiding over this world. In fact, for those of us who are pretty sure this world is all we got, we are much more predisposed to care about it and those living on it. All you have to do is live your life and then declare your allegiance to God on your deathbed. Pretty sweet deal.

Furthermore, what the hell is a moral compass? And which part of the bible or Koran would you take it from as both are wrought with contradictions? I think your mistake is equating ?having a soul? with making good choices and then assuming that only religious people can do that.