It can be a place so big that you can get lost, going crazy trying to come to terms with the vastness of it all.

Alternatively, it can be so small that you couldn’t ever escape. A small box of nothing.

Each the prefect prison.

I’ve been in a funk all week because of my friend Eternity.

My brain moves at speeds incalculable. Some of my friends would tell you otherwise, and would most probably liken my brain to a plodding donkey. I’m not saying that a fast-moving brain is better than a slow moving one. Not at all. I’m just saying that I think about a lot of things very quickly.

This gets me into no end of trouble.

Like most people, I get a bout of anxiety once in a while. Imagine, though, when it hits, rather than being frozen in panic, or thinking of a single thing, a whole series of possibilities enters your head almost simultaneously.

Let me explain…

For some reason, I started wondering what it would feel like to die. Not the painful part, but the consciousness part.

Everyone has their own theories about life and death. Some believe in an afterlife. Others believe in reincarnation.

My beliefs are closer to the latter camp than the former. And so, I wondered how it would feel if I were to die


  • When one dies, does their consciousness instantly flash back into being in another body?
  • Do you float in nothingness?
  • Are you privy to the secrets of the universe?
  • Would you even know you had died if you were reborn?


And so on.

From this point my mind wandered onto accomplishments and regrets. This can be a sensitive subject for anyone.

Some people are very goal-oriented. Others wait for things to happen to them to help them define who they are.

I am in between.

I have several goals that I want to accomplish. At the same time, I like to make sure I go with the flow, exploring new avenues that may not have presented themseves if I stuck to the plan.

And this is where the panic set in.

I began to wonder if perhaps my beliefs may have been mistaken. That maybe I wouldn’t get a chance to come back, and that this life is all I will get. This flew in the face of everything that I believe in.

My heart began to race, and breathing became hard to do.

A small voice in my mind chastised me for feeling weak and vulnerable, knowing that this feeling would pass. Of course, that didn’t stop the more dominant voice echoing in my head, begging me to provide concrete proof that I was was not failing in life, all the while shouting obscenities because it felt as if it were drowning.

Tendrils of desperate thoughts launched in all directions, trying to find a hold to prevent me from sinking deep into a place that even I am afraid of. My wife, my friends, my future child. All of these things danced out of my reach, my grasp falling short.

And throughout it all loomed Eternity. Looking amused. Looking smug.

The immediate feelings lasted for about ten or fifteen minutes.

Eventually I regained my composure, breathing normally once more.

But the lingering effects lasted for days, tainting my mood.

My mind was filled with questions, mostly about myself. Sometimes those questions are easy to deal with. But the ones that are only answered when you finally move on from this life are the ones that can drive you crazy.

Eventually, Eternity and I arrived at a stalemate. Neither party was willing to give ground to the other. I spoke to some close friends about what was bothering me, and it helped a lot. It made me relax a little.

Unfortunately, the lion’s share of work to exorcise this strangelhold that Eternity had on my mind was mine alone.

Last night, as I was shovelling a friend’s driveway, I realized that there are no answers. And that it’s okay to worry about the end.

But letting these worries stop you from living is what real death is.

Some friends told me that these thoughts were a result of a big life change heading my way. Maybe they are, maybe they aren’t. I’m far too happily excited by what’s happening in the next little while to make that sort of connection between fatherhood and something as negative as possibly living a pointless life.

How can life be pointless when I am on the cusp of fulfilling one of my only goals?

And so, as I finished piling the snow next to the walk, I made a promise to keep doing what I’m doing. To keep helping out, and being a friend, and all of the stuff that most people consider dated and cheezy. I wouldn’t question myself, or put myself down for too many things. I would maintain my confidence in my abilities and be a good person.

I felt Eternity glare at me, surprised at this turn of events.

Well, Eternity can kiss my brown ass.

I’ve got work to do, and I won’t stop until I say that I’m done.

13 Responses

  1. Although this recent phase got you down, it’s important that you’ve gone through it. Even if many of your questions will go unanswered, it IS important that you asked them.

    ..we all need to put things in to perspective – especially when there is going to be a big change in our lives (yay – Baby McFiggy!!!). We also need to make sure that the big questions don’t get us down. We have to live our lives. And make the most of it – achieving our goals when possible, but also not beating ourselves up if it takes longer than we thought (or not at all)…

    The Figgies will live happily every after. Fo’sho.

  2. I sit here on the couch, on a Friday night, as a single girl is prone to do. And I think of our emails over the week.

    And I sit also in awe of your candor about this, your unwavering dedication to … well, you.

    Not everyone can do this. Not *this* everyone.

    One of the things I have always loved about you is that you take life by the balls. Every. single. day of it.

    One of the new things I love about you is that I have no doubt – not a single shred – that you will do the same with death. The years, the minutes, the moments leading up to it.

    No one knows what lies beyond. But I do know that I’d want to be on your side of things, the side that would organize a softball team in the afterlife, that would bring good friends together for dinner on the clouds, that would look me deep in the eyes in 2500 long years to convince me that, indeed, we ONCE knew each other.

    I love you, my dear. All three of you.


  3. Since I only know you through this blog, the most i can say is that I’m happy you blogged about this _after_ you figured a bit out so that I (and other blgo readers) didn’t have to be worried about you before you reached your conclusion.

    🙂 Baby McFiggie 🙂

  4. One thing about goals is that once you have completed them another one always takes it’s place. I am over 40 now and I have gone through some reflective thoughts about my mortality, my life and my future just as you have described in your blog. I too came to the realization that death occurs only to those who give up on life. Some of my close friends who have passed on seem more alive to me than some that I know that are still here.

    For me the question of how it’s going to be does not enter my mind as before. Prior to my birth I did not feel anything, did not think anything, did not feel the passage of time and so I resign myself to think that this is how it’s going to end.

    If there is more, then that is a bonus…or not if I have to come back as a snail or something.

    Pretty deep thoughts, some hit very close to home.

    As we get older we are forced to deal with deaths that are closer to home, or changes in life such as the birth of my daughter that leave me in a cold sweat as to how my future will unfold. Will I be here for her, will she remember me as a good father, Have I prepared her for the world she is going to be embarking on.

  5. Sorry for being long winded. I just wanted to add something else.

    One story that keeps coming back to me is how a Samurai Warrior would resign to himself that this would be the final fight of theirs lives, that in this fight he is going to die and therefore he should accept it and do his duty.

    Without this fear of death in their mind they became fearsome warriors.

    I am not a warrior but I feel the same about my life. Death will always be around the corner no matter what we do. It’s better for us to continue living to the fullest rather than to just sit back and wait for the innevitable.

    I am one of a Trillion of people that have already met this fate. It is the most common of events and therefore I shall not fear it.

    The way in which I leave this life, is the way in which I will be remembered and immortalized.

    I hope it ok Mr. J
    I might use this topic in my blog
    I find it very interesting

  6. Some people consider children a form of extending our own mortality.

    I find it interesting that we all go thru the progression. In a number of years you will hit the stage where all of your parents and your friends parents will start to pass away.

    Later comes the stage where all of your friends start passing on.

    As a teenager I remember watching Logan’s Run and thinking “live fast, die young”. The characters in the movie were terminated (via the Carousel) at age 30 and thinking that 30 was old. I snickered at those really old, fat, bald-headed men. They must have been 40 or 50. Ancient!

    At 30, 30 didn’t feel old.

    At 40 it seemed downright young.

    Looking at 50 this year, and having already lost my father a long time ago, as well as my father-in-law, and listening to my 80 year old mother telling me which of her friends passed away this week, I see our future. Questions of mortality become more pertinent with every passing decade.

    Enjoy what you have, you don’t know how long it will last or what comes next. I try to keep my faith. And I try not to dwell too much over my decisions. I cannot change the past or the future. And I try not to mess up the now too much. Some days are better than others. We all have to plod on.

  7. Like Richard, I’m a little closer to the age when these thoughts could be about next week, not “sometime” . I teeter between panic and detachment, usually coming down on the detachment side, because it’s funnier. I find it’s almost impossible to get mired in fear or regret if I turn the music up.

  8. What a heavy and emotional entry this is. I do agree that these thoughts are provoked by the big change coming in your life. You’ll have a lot more to think about as the years go on, and unfortunately, more to worry about. But even still, you will find yourself enjoying life more – which is saying a lot because you really love it now – and you will continue to grow spiritually.

  9. In an ironic twist, I came across Hamlet’s soliloquy the other day.,_or_not_to_be

    I was never a fan of Shakespeare in high school. I preferred something written in English that I could understand. But I upon hearing the soliloquy I realized that this was a similar vein of questioning that this thread is following. References to death and what comes after.

    “To die, to sleep—
    To sleep, perchance to dream. Ay, there’s the rub,
    For in that sleep of death what dreams may come,
    When we have shuffled off this mortal coil,”

    “The undiscovered country from whose bourn
    No traveller returns, puzzles the will, …”

    It makes me realize that the more things change, the more they stay the same. The circle of life continues.

  10. Thanks, Richard.

    I think you need to start a blog!

    Given the fact that you probably write more in comments than most people write in blogs, you shouldn’t have a problem with content.


  11. What could I possibly have to say? 😛

  12. I’m not good at all with these weighty entries. Let me just say that this is an issue I’ve put on hold personally. Death, afterlife, spirituality—all that is a great big question mark for me, and I sometimes think I’m broken in some way because I don’t think about these things more than I do. Well, when the weight of eternity comes crashing down on me, I’ll know who to call.


  13. I prefer Eternity over Obsession. It is a far more cleaner and crisper fragrence. My friend Pete Shakespeare enjoys, maybe that Ricahrd fellow knows him, he sells umbrellas at Dundas Square?

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