Sunday, December 26, 2010

If I’m Lucky

If I’m lucky, I have 30 years left on this planet. That’s not very long.

I spend a lot of time wondering how, as a species, the thought of our own mortality doesn’t have otherwise reasonable human beings running down the street screaming hysterically. I would understand if I saw it, I really would. Aaahhh……there’s a hysterical person shouting and flailing wildly in the street….must have just realized that life is finite. Poor bastard.

Not that realization necessarily stops the flailing and the screaming. No, I suppose we have to go a step or two further. For the Believers out there, I guess the next step is pretty obvious. The Christians get to wrap themselves up in the warm assurance that there’s a better place waiting for them. Life after death. Heaven and a loving God. Eternal existence on a cloudy Utopia. If you were a good little human in this whole life-on-earth-is-a-test-of-your-faith-do-good-and-be-rewarded-in-the-after-life thing, that is.

If you were a naughty little homo sapien….let’s just say if you lived your life to the best of your ability, you loved your fellow man, you did good unto others, you lead a moral and upstanding life, but you didn’t check “accept Jesus Christ as your personal saviour” off of your to do list, you are heading to the hot- burny place. But I suppose, if you didn’t tick that particular box, chances are you don’t believe in the hot-burny place anyway, so it’s kind of irrelevant.

Apparently, and this is one of the big places where Christianity and I part ways, if you do everything right and you live an exemplary life…I mean you give the Pope a run for his money…you do all that and you still don’t accept Jesus Christ as your personal saviour…you are in big trouble when you get up to those famous gates. There’s no reward for you, sister! Do not pass go, do not collect eternal salvation. You are toast. Note the reference to the hot-burny place.

So where does that leave me? I have made mistakes in my life, that is for certain. No doubt about it. Honey, some of my fondest memories are of the bigger mistakes that I’ve made (said in my best Mae West drawl). But I’ve never knowingly or intentionally hurt another human being. Well, not one that didn’t deserve it anyway. Not even in my darkest moments.

I don’t cheat. I am honest to a fault. If I don’t get by on my own achievements, I will not have accomplished anything.

I can’t lie, unless you ask me something that will hurt you if I answer honestly. Seriously, I wish people would stop asking me things if they don’t want to know my answer! Sorry, just a little aside.

I don’t steal. If you undercharge me at the store, I’m one of those annoying types that goes back and pays what I owe. If I find your wallet, I return it to you. I’m your garden variety nice person.

But according to Christians, unless I accept Jesus Christ as my saviour here on earth, I won’t get a chance to do so at those big, shiny old gates. And down, down, down I will go. Apparently there’s some sort of rule against hedging your bets. You can’t show up on the big night and hope to buy your ticket at the door. You have to buy it in advance. They call it faith.

Now, being a non-Believer, it’s not particularly relevant for me. Just like most things, I’m pretty sure I’m right about this too. I believe that when my time on earth is done, the lights go out and I will cease to exist. Reincarnation, as a philosophy, holds no appeal to me either. What’s the point of having this fabulous new life if you have no memory of your past lives? Reincarnation has the same effect as the lights going out, in my humble opinion.

So how do I stop myself from running screaming down the street? Well, I don’t actually. It does happen every now and then. And I really don’t understand why it doesn’t happen more. Why there isn’t a secret society of street-screamers? I’d love to hear from other atheists to see how they come to terms with the whole cease-to-exist thing.

A healthy dose of denial combined with loving well, living life as honestly and as truly as I can, avoiding regret, and surrounding myself with as much happiness as possible is my current battle plan. If I’m lucky, I have 30 years left on this planet. And then, for me, there’s nothing more. I guess I better make the most of them, hadn’t I?

And if I’m wrong, I won’t need to pack a sweater.