I know I’m a scorpio because I of how much I love death. Or at least, this is what I tell myself when I find my brain dwelling on a demise.
It’s been said, more so recently, that America is a death cult. That’s not the same kind of death as the one my mind wanders to. The Death of the American death cult is really a cutting out. It’s an effort to forget, to purge. The deaths of Americans in this cult is an elimination of the weakest, of those not meant to survive.
No, the kind of death that I’ve been thinking about lately is the generative sort. Particularly the passing of a man who, honestly, I’d never heard of until he passed away: Dan Kaminsky.
In some ways, death is an acceleration machine. It brings about the real judging, the real weighing of a life that isn’t possible when a person is still alive.
You can’t really see what the weight of a life is until it’s passed. We try hard, in American culture, to make life matter as much as we can while we’re here. To become celebrities. To be known. To prove through striving and making and accomplishing.
The reality of it is though that any fame or recognition in life is fleeting.
It is, in the long run, largely unimportant. What matters is how the way you’ve cut through life leaves the path of others in your wake.
The afterlife is not a thing of polite conversation much these days. That’s not a thing we, Americans, concern ourselves with much.
More likely, we focus on not dying. On prolonging. On never burning out. We persist.
I mean sure, some of us go to church to hear about fire and damnation. I’ve been told there’s streets of gold up there somewhere. Wherever up is. Wherever somewhere is.
When you think about it though, the christian afterlife, the way we talk about it, it isn’t a real death. It’s a fantasy. It’s a high fidelity imagining of a continuation of existence in a different plane. It’s make-believe. It’s an excuse to permit suffering in the present, because we can and do collectively imagine a better place.
Our real afterlives, our real true legacies, the tried and true way that we as humans continue on – that’s not a thing that we talk about it. How do you actually come about to live forever?
I think that’s because the real pathway to eternity is the hardest path there is to forge. It’s not the only one that matters, but it’s probably the best one worth striving for.
The real afterlife is what we, the survivors, carry with us. We are the place that souls reside after their passing. We pass them on and spread them through stories of their works. The only way to live forever is through the humans that you touch by your works.
Everything else falls away.
Dan. I didn’t know you, but now, I know of you. May you rest in peace.