There was one time when I was still in my teens. A recurring thought that had been haunting me for a long time shaped in my mind. It was a very frightening thought-
What if one day I cease to exist?
When I don't talk, eat, move or breathe?
When I am no longer in this world?
When there is no me?
At that time when I thought that, I felt a strange suspending feeling. It was odd. I felt that there was no time, zone nor place. It was almost as though my entire body tingled. My mind was planning on going into overdrive mode. The whirling and the spinning. Yet I was not giddy. I was just overwhelmed.
I have been trying to be an escapist (as usual) by avoiding the question and pushing it to the back of my mind. I mean, everyone does that. And there is this saying, "Go with the flow." So why not? Yet, the time came when I knew I had to rationalize it before it made me go insane. It was bothering my sleep. It was challenging my goals. And most of all, it undermined my whole concept of life.
I don't think I am the first one asking myself this question. People before, present and after me have, and still will. Some have found the answer through religion. Others have tried to immortalize themselves by doing great things so that they will be remembered by the world. Just think of the movie "Troy" by Brad Pitt that was in cinemas recently. Some others help people by making themselves useful to society. And yet others still falter.
Now, I did not even flip through any books on philosophy or religious texts while trying to find the elusive answer. I simply just sat down one day and attempted to think through the whole matter myself.
I am a skeptic of religion, but I won't go into that, seeing that talking about religious issues is sensitive. I believe to some extent in the second school of rationalization, immortalizing yourself, but ... what happens when people who have seen you do great things die? Your legacy will die with them, and slowly but surely, time will make people's memories dim. Even if you are written about in books, how many people know the person who you are anyway? For instance, how many people will really know who Lee Kuan Yew is as a fellow human anyway? Nobody. Except his loved ones, that is. And even that is subject to doubt.
Some people try to help others. It makes them feel useful and that they are contributing to the world. People engage in social work and psychology to help people. They think it is self-actualization, the highest stage of the Marlow's theory of the needs of humans. It is all very well when you do it with the right intentions. Yet, what about people who give their entire lives to charities and good works? A dedication to be admired, or a dedication to be pitied? What about their own lives? Are they merely acting selflessly to fill up a void in their hearts? Call me a cynic, but I am a bit skeptical about what a person values as his/her true worth when they immerse themselves heart, mind and soul into giving. When they neglect their families and friends for this. Or perhaps it's a calling? Could be. Hmmm ... Yet I have my doubts.
That is why I have attempted to rationalize it through a very pragmatic approach. I focus on the present. Make my loved ones happy. Live my life the way I want in the least damaging way to the rest of society as much as possible. That way, my conscience is gratified and I will have a great time as well. I live in the present, because it's sad when you lose the moment while planning and working towards the future. Perhaps it is because I am not that long-sighted either. Sometimes it's good to be, but when you always live for the future, how realistic can that get? So many people are seeing their financial advisors every day, planning for their retirement, living today as if there's no today but for tomorrow. What if you always live for the future and die suddenly? Another horrifying thought ...
Another thing that I have tried to do is to make changes in society in my own little ways - which is probably why I'm writing in the first place. I like to air my opinions and views - after thinking through them, of course. And if my opinions and thoughts, whether reached to others through discussion forums or in my articles, I am satisfied - because I have made them think. And making people think is not easy, because many people do not want to.
In sum, my philosophy is-
Make my loved ones happy. Live in the moment as well as the future. Provoke and challenge people to think
Through my own brand of philosophy, I have managed to rationalize death. It may not follow your train of thought, and you may not agree. But I'm sure I'm not the only one who thinks in this way. Meanwhile, I hope that you too, find your own philosophy.