Colors Of The Mind #9
The Problem With Mortality
Make Life Worth Living (MLWL) is a project by Zaluso Arts whose goal is to explore and spark conversations about issues concerning mental health, through art.
Lately, I’ve been obsessed with death. As I do up the laces of my running shoes to go for a jog, my mind is flooded with images of a truck slamming into me without warning, laying waste to my body on the side of the road. Out on the street as it gets darker, every strange man poses danger. I imagine being bludgeoned in the head from behind, dragged into one of the many bushes I happen to pass by and being subsequently stabbed to death.
I know the fears are mostly unfounded – I always make sure to stick to the side of the road where I have a clear view of oncoming traffic and have been jogging for months now without incident. The area I live in is relatively safe and I have not heard reports of any muggings, let alone stabbings. I’m certain any danger I face is minimal.
Still, these images force me to confront once more, the truth about my mortality. It may not happen in a roadside accident or at the hands of a stab-happy stranger, but death is imminent.
*cue existential crisis*
And now for a disclaimer: I am not a religious person- which is is not a point for debate, simply fact- as such, I do not relate to living with the hope of a glorified afterlife. I believe that from nothingness we came and to nothingness we will return. Questions of how and why are no longer things I concern myself with. It would therefore be a different conversation altogether if I were someone who believed in the notion of heaven and hell, but the point of this post is to look at dealing with the inevitability of death as a non-believer.
I’m sure you can see where the problem comes in. Without the idea of heaven to aspire to or hell to live in fear of, you begin to wonder what the point of it all is when faced with the fact that existence is fleeting. It’s easy to conclude that nothing matters. Everything is meaningless. We are born and then we die. Why should the in-between count for anything?
I’ve struggled with this line of thought for most of my adult life – wavering between nihilism and a vague sense of faith in the order of the universe. The conclusion insofar as where I currently stand, has been to strike a healthy balance of both.
I’m here right now, and that counts for something. I could choose to meet life with the approach that nothing I do matters but that wouldn’t serve me in any way. Similarly, I could attack life with everything and attempt to become greatness personified but if that comes at the expense of things I care about I have to ask myself what it will all be for in the end.
The thought of leaving a legacy is enough for some. It doesn’t matter if they’re not here to witness the fruits of all their effort as long as they are remembered for it or leave behind something tangible in their name that people can point to. I’m a simpler type of person. All I want to do is spend my limited time on this earth doing the things that bring me joy and fulfilment, and loving the people I care about to the best of my ability.
In the grand scheme of things, and in the face of all the mysteries of the universe – that is enough. So while it may all feel pointless at times, there are things that we can find within these passing moments that give us meaning. Regardless of what that looks like for each individual.
In the end, my advice to you is to figure out whatever is enough for YOU – without concerning yourself too much about how the things that give you meaning measure up to anyone s standards except your own.
Author: Singalilwe Chilemba is a book enthusiast, aspiring wine connoisseur and part-time writer. You can follow her on social media under the handle @mwanaduwa and read more of her work on mwanaduwa.com