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You know, I thought I’d know by the time I died. Really, I did. It was the only thing that kept me from being scared, late at night, when thoughts of black nothingness crept into my mind. I thought I would do it all. That I would live a full life and accomplish everything I possibly could. But is that possible? To do everything? I don’t think so. Not now.

I wanted to change the world. I wanted to make a difference. I wanted to be remembered. It all seems so selfish and petty and naïve. But I wanted it, all the same. Don’t we all want it? Immortality? Not everyone. Some people, some very few, courageous people don’t care about that, and just want to help others. They just want to have made a difference for the greater good. I’m glad I’m at least honest enough with myself to know that I am definitely not one of those people.

I got good grades and won awards and had friends and dreams and fears. Where are they now in that sea of anonymity, hundreds upon thousands upon millions of people are in the world. Where am I? I’m just one of the masses. One more drop of water into an ocean. One more star in the sky.

That’s the thing about death. It’s the great equalizer. But I want more. More wine, more sun, more sleepy Sunday mornings with nothing to do but stay in bed all day and maybe eat some junk. I want more love, more air, more time... maybe that’s the secret. Maybe that’s the big secret that people supposedly know at death. That wanting more is what life’s all about.

If you do everything, what else is there to do? What else is there to be special? Living forever would actually be a shame. Because leaving things wanting more is truly what makes anything worthwhile. Someone dies and you want more of them. So you miss them and mourn them and cry until you’re trembling. And even then, for years to come, there’s a hollow place inside you where they used to be. A place they never quite got around to completely filling. If they had filled it, you wouldn’t be upset, because you would have gotten all that you could out of them. But you didn’t. And so they had worth.

And other things, too. Eat too much food and it stops tasting good. Make too much art and you start to run out of ideas. Play too much of a sport and it starts to affect your performance. Everything worth doing has to have an end. Maybe death isn’t about not being afraid because you’ve done everything, but understanding that it’s important that you haven’t.

You ARE wise at death. Just not in what you thought you would be. You don’t know the secrets of the universe, what life’s all about. But you understand a little bit better. “Courage is not the absence of fear but rather the judgment that something is more important than fear. The brave may not live forever but the cautious do not live at all”. I don’t remember where I heard that. Maybe it was Benjamin Franklin, or Socrates, or... or from that Disney movie, the Princess Diaries. Funny how such great wisdom can come from the most unlikely sources.

Equalizer, I said. Death is the great equalizer. And at the end, it’s all the same. Everything swirls into that black pool of both enormous and infinitesimal meaning. You are nothing and you are everything and then... you are. You just ARE. And with your last moment, you think, “More” and then it is gone. You... are gone. And it is as it should be.





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