Monday, 27 August 2012

A hypothesis about death

I have recently met a very fascinating man over the weekend. We were cross-walking (commonly referred to as j-walking) and I noticed that a motorcycle was speeding towards us as we were heading for the other sidewalk while I was having a conversation with him. I jumped immediately onto the sidewalk while he casually walked on to the other side of the street without reacting to the motorcycle, almost as if he didn't notice it. But I knew that he couldn't have been unaware of the motorcycle because of the loud sound that the engine was making. As I was crossing the street, I was merely shocked at his non-chalant attitude and, being unable to ask anything, I waited until he started talking.

"Hey, you worried about that bike?"

"I like my legs, I don't wanna break them."

"Notice how I didn't run?"

Of course I did, I thought, but I decided to let him continue. He proceeded to tell me a story about how he nearly got killed getting run over by a tractor-trailer. He told me the full list of injuries: two broken legs, a ruptured rib-cage and a displaced spinal disc about two inches away from a coma or immediate death. He kept saying that the experience made him indifferent towards the prospect of death. If I die, he said, then I die. He was basically saying that he wasn't going to run away from death anymore (at least not anything sudden). He also said that death might not be such a bad thing either, considering the burden that all people have to go through just to keep themselves alive (food, shelter, discretionary spending, etc.)

I've heard people declare this doctrine before. It wasn't the first time. But the fact that even the uncaring and indifferent will feed themselves when they get the opportunity also helps to prove a point that I'm going to be making in a few moments.

The brain emits several chemicals that we aren't even aware of to keep the body running. It accounts for around two percent of the human body, yet it needs to use twenty percent of the entire volume of blood in your body because of the energy it uses to keep human functions optimal.

Yur brain , at this very moment, is sending signals to antibodies and white blood cells to mercilessly kill any bacteria, viruses and foreign objects that have managed to penetrate the considerable acidic and basic defenses around and inside of your mouth, nose and skin. Your antibodies and white blood cells, while working together, could kill on average fifty thousand strains of viruses and bacteria an hour, let alone the viruses and bacteria that die from contact with the skin and mouth. All of this is done to keep you alive.

The human brain has been aware of the entire composition of our body long before any civilisation could grasp the concept of surgery. The strain on the brain to keep the human body alive is more significant and considerably larger than any other organ in the human body. Only the heart comes close, with the burden of delivering oxygen and nutrients to every other organ, including the brain, using blood as a medium. Yet, most healthy brains will still continue to do the incredible workload needed to sustain the rest of the body.

Every cell in the human body contributes to the survival of the human being, playing their part in avoiding death as long as possible. Perhaps we should be listening to our own bodies instead of the weird and contradictory thoughts that come from our imaginative complex. What if nothingness, the true destination after death, according to open and even closeted atheists, is more terrifying than anything that your body would have to endure while living?

All of the cells in your body decompose after death, including the ones that hold your memories, personality and disposition. Everything about you dies with you. You don't go to an eternal slumber, you disappear. Otherwise, why would there be neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer's disorder that destroy your memory, if your memories and actions should be carried within your "soul" as long as you're alive and even after that?

Death is a tragedy that should be avoided as long as possible. And while I do believe that we should "live life to the fullest", I also believe that we should be mindful of our own life-spans. Our imaginative and reflective parts of our brain should be as considerate of the potential tragedy of our own death as the rest of our body is. I don't feel this to be a pessimistic or irrational view. In fact, I believe that death is merely a problem that we, as humans, haven't found a solution to as of yet. And if there is in fact a solution to the problem of death, knowing that there are in fact no after-lives and second chances at human life, then it would be wise to do the best that one possibly can, in order to remain alive long enough to see it.

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