Three of my cartooning compatriots have died in recent months, two of them within ten days of each other. A lot of other artists of my generation, musicians, writers and performers have been departing left and right from this mortal coil.
There’s also been a fair amount of my friends, acquaintances and workmates leaving The Building of late and I miss ‘em. It appears that we’ve gotten to that age—the funeral-attending one. Thus, I find myself lately thinking about the Big D…death.
Not so much the act of dying but what may happen after that. The afterlife, if there is such a thing.
Even as a kid, I could not grasp the whole heaven and hell concept. It just seemed too severely black and white. There are evil people in the world just as there are saintly ones but most of us are somewhere in between. We’re good people that do good things but, let’s face it, we’ve all done or thought bad things in our lifetime.
Does that discount one from entering the utopian existence of heaven? It would depend on who is making the judgement. You might luck out with a Mahatma Gandhi-like judge or get stuck with an Antonin Scalia type.
I’m not very knowledgeable about religion but I think God is supposed to make those judgements. You think he’d delegate some of that work but He (or She or It) is all-knowing so I guess it must fall to Him/She/It to give the ol’ thumbs up or down.
As a kid, I went to public school but I attended Catechism classes once a week. Instead of instilling and boosting my faith, all that teaching about God and the Bible only raised questions in my little brain, which does not make for a good follower. Long ago I wandered away from the flock and place my bets with no one and nothing.
It’s the Rick Blaine in me.
You got that right, Mr. Siergey…
There is a school of thought, or is it belief, that when one dies, one will see one’s family and friends again and even be reunited with pets. But doesn’t that also mean that you will also see your enemies or people you didn’t like as well as tons of folks you never knew? Or is everyone isolated in cubicle-like neighborhoods where the only shoulders you’ll brush will be family and friends?
I love my family and friends but I don’t know that I’d want to spend eternity with them.
There’s belief in reincarnation or maybe you come back as vapor or a collection of atoms or as a ghost. Reincarnation sounds kind of interesting but what if you reincarnate as a mayfly and live all of five minutes? That reincarnation stuff seems like a lot of changing going on and I’ve never been comfortable with too much change.
A vapor? Would a wisp of vapor have any sensuality? Could you, as vapor, enjoy? It might be fun to be able to whisk around from galaxy to galaxy in the universe but if you don’t have the ability to appreciate or remember anything, why bother?
Ghosts? How long before the thrill of scaring people wears off? And what if I just want to be their friend? You know what the response to that is…”EEK! A ghost!” At least, according to Casper the Friendly Ghost comic books.
Maybe whatever happens to you after you die is whatever you believe will happen. You’d sit on a cloud enjoying harp recitals or roast in flames while a video of your most embarrassing moments plays on a loop, you’d flit about like a butterfly, soar through the universe with no direction home or sit in a musty attic, invisible to all except the occasional and rare true believer.
Or, as in my case, nothing. I feel that once you die, that’s it. Nada, zilch, nil, zippo, diddley squat, bupkus, goose egg, 1506 nix nix.
Who knows? Who cares? The only person there and back was Ulysses and he was a fictional character. Whatever happens or doesn’t happen, happens or doesn’t.
What’s meaningful is to be good to yourself and to others while you’re alive and, in the immortal words of Warren Zevon when asked for advice upon hearing that he had a short time left to live, “Enjoy every sandwich”.
Make mine on rye.
Editor’s Note: Jim’s last post for The Third City was Hell’s Bells…
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