Another Fatherly Ramble27 March, 2008
Tomorrow I take my son out to Clarion so he can register for his classes. I have a problem with the idea that he has a only a little over two months until he graduates. Even though I lived in West Virginia for a little while, I don’t feel old enough to have a child in college.
His pending graduation has gotten me thinking about my life (or, rather, what’s left of it). Sometimes I almost (almost (note the qualifier here)) envy those with faith. Mortality (pending (many years in the future)) can do that.
To a theist, death is the goal — when a theist dies, god and/or Jesus and/or allah and/or the ten thousand other gods and godlettes which have been created by the mind of man, he or she (if he have lifed right or believed exactly the right thing about exactly the right things) will get to meet the creator, find out the truth about everything (there are some funny parts about penguins), and spend the rest of eternity basking in the glow of ‘god’ (they better have some real good suntan lotion up (or down) there). To a theist, death is the reward for a life of irrationality, prejudice, abstinence (from some things, not necessarily sex), and reading lots and lots of bizaare things.
For me, as an atheist, death is something to be avoided as long as possible. I know that death is the end of my conscious existence. That is buffered by the idea that my atoms will continue and will, eventually if not immediately, be used by other living things. I also know that my death will not truly be the end of me — my children are (at the risk of sounding really weird) part of me. So are the things I have done, what I have created, the laughter (or moans) from my jokes. I know I will die, and I know that will be the end of the creative me. My effect on others will live after me.
So as I contemplate a son in college, a daughter a few years away from college, and the fact that I am 42 years old (and have not found the answer to life, the universe and everything), I can look at it both ways. My age frightens me, but I am happy with who I am. I do, in a way, envy the child-like beliefs in a hereafter (though I bet for a creative person, it gets real boring real fast), but that doesn’t mean I’m gonna drink the KoolAid.