The end, as they say, is nigh.
Hopefully not very nigh, but, eventually, nigh it will be.
That bothers me. I would be stupid if it didn't.
Of course, most people don't know when the end will come. Stray buses,
badly-earthed wires, lightning, there are many ways to shuffle off this mortal coil without actually noticing.
That's slightly attractive, because what bothers me is not the aftermath (being an atheist, there's no reason for me to be bothered about any post-corporeal consequences). What bothers me is knowing. Seeing it coming more than a few seconds in advance.
I do not look forward to having thoughts of mortality forced upon me for any length of time, say with illness or encroaching age. I expect to end up (if I keep my faculties) in some sort of state of mild, but permanent, panic.
It's bad enough now, when the thought of The End crosses my mind (as it does, when events remind me of my mortality, such as friends losing relatives, or I have a close call myself), to consider a world without me in it. The mental picture doesn't work. The best that I can do is to think of a me-less world in which I am some sort of powerless observer, like a television viewer with no remote.
It is easy to see, at times like that, where the idea of life continuing after death came from. It's just so much easier to go into denial and delude yourself into thinking that dying is just a temporary inconvenience, then you just carry on as before, just a it more ethereal.
But, in these modern days, there arre extra things to worry about.
When I die, my family and friends will know. They will grieve (hopefully), but they will go on and remember me with affection.
But what about you, dear reader?
There are hundreds, possibly thousands of people who know I exist through other websites, particularly Instructables. Pardon my ego, but I'd like to think they like my work, and would miss me when I'm gone. But, if I die, how would they know?
If you are in the habit of checking my stuff (or anybody else on the web) every few days or weeks, how long would it take you to notice I had stopped posting? How long would you keep checking before deciding I wasn't going to post again? Would you even consider the possibility that something was more seriously wrong than a laxness on my part?
And, maybe, you are reading this for the first time. Browsing the bloggosphere, you have only just happened upon this rather morbid post. Am I, to you, dead, alive, or maybe even neither? Am I inhabiting a timeless limbo?
I tell people who ask me; When I die, all that will remain of me will be the memories held by those that knew me. Does this count as a memory? And whose memory? Post-mortem readers did not know me. Do you remember me by reading this?
Is this, then, the afterlife I have never believed in?