Mortality & The Vast Empty Void

To contemplate the darkness of non-existence is truly troubling — I can’t bear to consider it. But alone at 2:00 am I’m still curious.

Image of a constellation of stars for article by Larry G. Maguire

Photo by Jeremy Thomas on Unsplash

To contemplate the darkness of non-existence is truly troubling — I can’t bear to consider it. But alone at 2:00 am I’m still curious.

Welcome to The Reflectionist, a daily dose of reflection on the nature of the self, personal reality, creativity, life and work, submitted to the public record for posterity. Read personal essays and articles on the psychology of creativity to help you nurture and broaden your creative prowess.

Tonight I felt the weight of understanding of my own mortality and that of my family for the second time in a couple of weeks. It’s hard to explain, but I’ll try.

I thought I knew what it was before, but I realise now that was merely an intellectual reckoning. As I write this and reach for the feeling again, I can’t find it. All I’m left with is the memory of knowing I had the experience, but not the experience.

Last week in Donegal as I sat on the couch, my wife on the other couch, both of us having a beer, my son Ruairí came from his room to have a drink of water. As he sat down at the small table in the van, and as he spoke, the same feeling came over me. It feels like I am about to become lost in the void. It’s difficult to explain — words never get there.

Tonight, it came over me again, and like two weeks ago in the van, it felt light as a feather, yet absolute and immense. The realisation was palpable that I and everyone I know would soon, someday, disappear without a trace. My children were at the forefront of my mind, and I realised how precious and fragile this life experience of mine is.

The contemplation, or rather, realisation, was tragic yet beautiful and I was afraid. Not afraid in a scared, cowering and anxious way, but rather in the face of its enormity, I was helpless to do anything about it. Like I would be absorbed. My breath was caught.

To contemplate, the darkness of nonexistence is deeply troubling. Do we wake up somewhere else when we go to sleep here, or do we drift in the blackness for an eternity waiting for the gift of a moment to be born again? Maybe it’s an eternity in a moment, and at that moment, it all happens.

I suppose this is the seed of all ideas of heaven and hell.

Fear of the blackness was a thought I conjured after the fact. At that moment, I had regret at losing this experience, my wife and children and the connection we have. The preciousness of their presence with me felt fragile as I realised how important and finite they are. It’s not my time to leave yet, that was clear.

Is this the product of years spent in contemplation and self-reflection on the nature of life? Is this what it feels like to realise my own limited existence, to transcend myself if not for only a few seconds?

What am I really?

These questions have formed an even greater gravity for me than they have before. The triviality of everyday human behaviour occurs to me. How stupid and linear human beings are.

I hope when you are older, you have the chance to read this and know that I thought so much of each of you, that your interaction with me was all that mattered even though it was plain to see I forgot sometimes. How could this not be given what I have experienced?

Dejavu now. For a moment.

Have I done this trip before?

Is this thing that goes on just like a giant kaleidoscope? If yes, am I multiple selves but I can only experience one of me at a time?

Do I exist in all of them?

I think to be conscious of more than the single dimension of time and space (because it is single) we currently occupy would be too much for our linear minds to cope with. It’s like being tuned out of all radio stations but one.

Perhaps, as far as this thinking feeling bio-physical-psychical being is concerned, this is all there is.

Better get busy soaking it all up so. Time here is limited.

Thanks for taking the time to read my stuff. Every morning you’ll find me sharing a new thought on life, art, work, creativity, the self and the nature of reality on The Reflectionist. I also write on The Creative Mind. If you like what I’m creating, join my email list to receive the weekly Sunday Letters

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