September 8, 2011 at 10:59 pm , by Nick Shell
Most nights as I fall asleep, I can’t help but think how sleeping through the night is sort of like checking out of reality, reminding me of the lyrics to Tom Petty’s classic song, “Freefalling”: “I want to leave this world for a while.”
Though I’m overly aware that at any given second I could die of any random cause, like instantly turning into a pillar of salt, I’m never more aware of the inevitability of death than when I am fading and falling into the dream world.
Sleeping is the closest thing I know to having an understanding of what it’s like to be dead. It’s the closest concept I have of understanding what it’s not like to live in this world, confined to rules of practicality and common sense.
Sure, it’s an understatement to admit that I don’t want to die right now. But I’ve never been more caught up in life than I am at this very moment, so it’s really on my mind.
After all, I have made a covenant before God to love my wife for as long as we both shall live. Then the two of us brought another life into this world. That’s pretty dang epic. That’s deep.
So now that I have involved myself this drastically in the course of history (and therefore, the future), I’m just dying to stick around. It’s not simply that I want to see what happens next; not simply that I want to see how the story unfolds with my wife and son. But I want to literally be here, as part of their story.
Without a doubt, it’s sad to think that the story could go on without me. It’s sad to think that has been reality for so many people who “died before their time.”
I’m not afraid of death. I couldn’t be any more confident of what happens to me the second after I die. But while I’m not afraid of death, I am pretty fascinated by it.
It amazes me that millions of people alive today in this world could take life (and therefore, death) so nonchalantly: That despite all the miracles in their lives, they never see a need to think past this life, and to consider how the people they interact with each day can be affected eternally by their words and actions.
How can a person not think about eternity, or convince themselves it doesn’t exist? The irony: that life itself distracts a person from thinking about death.
I can’t imagine not taking enough time to pause and wonder about what happens when the lights finally go out for good and what this life was for. I do it on a daily basis.
So it’s not that I ever wanted to die, or wouldn’t mind dying, but now more than ever, if I have any say in the matter, it’s as simple as this:
I don’t want to die right now.
And if I shall continue waking up alive each day, as I have done for 30 years so far, then I shall continue to live to the best of my ability. I’m the kind of guy who takes life way too seriously, but in a good way, I would like to think.