I was listening to Shelly Kagan talk about death on a podcast. He said, “How can non-existence be a bad thing if I’m not there to experience it”.
I’ve always had a very complicated, entangled relationship with the idea of “non-existence” the whole general concept of it makes me shudder but at the same time it’s almost an anomaly in itself something that’s inviting, and seemingly decorated by the curiosity that lingers in my mind at the mention of this word.
How is it possible for someone to be so terrified of something, yet be so immensely intrigued by it at the same time?
The dictionary defines the term “Non-existence” as the “negation of being”.
Which simply means it is the contradiction or denial of having objective reality.
I on the other hand interpret the idea of non-existence as closely linked to being forgotten for some unknown reason. I can bring myself to cope with the fact that death is inevitable but as we’re all aware that non-existence pretty much goes hand in hand with death. However to me it is the complete physical and emotional removal of any trace my being may leave on this Earth and in the hearts of those I’ve known.
That as anyone can imagine, is quite fucking scary. Sure I will not be able to actively, physically or even consciously go through the state of non-existence itself, but that doesn’t mean it does not worry me. The very mention of being forgotten or being gone, the thought of the people I’ve come to know just moving on makes me feel like the time I will spend on this Earth will eventually be meaningless. It makes living seem like an exercise that will prove to be wasteful and quite frankly pointless in the end.
Yet some nights I find myself wishing to be forgotten. Accepting the pointlessness, and wanting nothing more than to not exist. And that just freaks me out, how one second I can be grasping onto pieces of life that will hopefully engrave something, anything about me into other people’s minds so they won’t forget. And just like that some days I wish to disappear without a trace.
As Plato summed it up pretty well:
“No one knows whether death is really the greatest blessing a man can have, but they fear it is the greatest curse. As if they knew well.”