The process of aging within a society obsessed with youth and the possibility of life after death through the beneficence of an abstract and, to some, distant God is a strange and discordant thing. Time's river relentlessly wears deep fissures in one's face and hands. That same river either can refresh and deepen the mind's channel or erode the mind completely, depending on mysterious circumstance or the whims of the Gods.
In my life of relationships with human beings, I have been affected by the rise and fall of many a good person. I have seen bright lights fade slowly or blink out suddenly as a result of what, to that person at least, seemed like rational and logical decisions in the face of a hostile environment.
There have been those among us who have been able to chart and record their own course into the oblivion of the other side, through art or writing, helping us to understand a little more the fear and apprehension that are experienced when leaving this mortal coil. Besides those who are able to record the dilated veil of Alzheimer’s, we have a rich history of work talking about the process of or sudden blink of death's eye.
I remember reading many in my life, including one when I was in fifth or sixth grade; those stories and anecdotes affected me greatly. An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge is the earliest in my mind of stories that made me think of the intersection of life and death, and there through, about understanding and appreciating the moments that come in between the difficulties of the birth canal and the unknown beyond life's gates. It even became one of the most popular "Twilight Zone" episodes ever, a testament to its ability to affect even people in the 'modern' era.
'Tis an unusual trick to show a child the uncertainty and trickery possible at the close of life with one breath and with the other describe Jesus as the Savior of all mankind; with power over death and purveyor of certainty and security for the life beyond. There are very few people with the mystical or religious agility to treat the question that seeks to reconcile the possibilities of the metaphysical with the posits of science.
Is this something that we revisit frequently in our own lives, telling stories and reassuring our neighbors as to our position of security and prosperity when in reality, truth is closer to a view that the abyss is at our feet and the blade closer to our neck with each passing second? Which of these extremes visits more damage upon our collective psyche, the idea that we are nested wards of an unseen god or the opposite; we are feeble individual flames, naked to the whims of the wide sky and shaky earth?
The question stands and our society remains obsessed with a fleeting youth. Perhaps religions as we practice them aren't up to the test of our society today. Perhaps we really need to dig deeper into our own true selves, into our collective history to pull the essence of religion and a deeper understanding of the now with the end of facing day-to-day life with a better view of the unknown on either end of this short life.