yanub, you seem to have developed a very balanced and healthy perspective on these things. I don't know anything about you--but is there anything you'd be willing to share about your life or background that would illuminate us regarding your outlook? I agreed with your comment about comfort, but still, don't you ever have just a small bit of sadness when you think about your consciousness ceasing to exist?
Do I have any sadness over my consciousness ceasing to exist? No, not really. I regret that, when I do die, there will be people who will be sad because I won't be around. At the same time, it would be even sadder if no one missed me. I fret more at the prospective loss of those I love than over my own prospective death, and want to stay alive because I know others feel the same way about me.
I've lived through a long period of depression, which is behind me now. What got me through my own lack of desire for life was knowing that I was loved, even if I couldn't fully feel it, knowing that my death would affect others and hurt them. And I've never wanted anyone to hurt because of me. But when I am dead? I will be as aware as I was before I ever came into existence. I figure, if I don't mind the previous non-existence, I have nothing to fear from that non-existence to come, either. I really only regret my decades of depression. I wish I could have somehow stopped that sooner, because that is a sort of existence without existence. But a disease must run its course, and there is no fault in being sick. And no turning back time, either.
So, now I am well into middle age, with a body that creaks and gives out like I am well into old age. And while I feel free to grumble when I hurt or have to bypass doing something I would have liked to do because I can't get cooperation from all the important bits and pieces, I also don't really care. I don't care if people stare when I limp. I don't care if they think bad thoughts when I use a handicapped spot and seem to walk pretty good at the moment. I don't care if they keep asking what happened to my neck. Or if they ask about my finger splints. I have no problem saying "no" if asked to do things that I simply can't do. I have nothing to prove, no one to impress, and wouldn't try to prove anything or impress anyone if I did.
I owe a great deal of how I feel about things now to Carapace, who talked me through my depression and my outrageous anxiety attacks, and who still impresses me with her (un)natural good humor. Oh, yeah, she's my daughter, but I've always admired her as a person. Wearing her reverse headgear to fifth grade with such confidence and hope for improvement that all teasing bounced off her and shriveled away. Her indignation over the school's treatment of a mentally ill classmate while brushing aside her own treatment by the school while she was using a wheelchair. Her intense excitement over her crafting and art despite the high cost she bears with the associated migraines and seizures during a creative burst.
And then there's Elizabeth, about whom I've recently posted. How can I help but want to be a better friend and neighbor when Elizabeth is such a great one across so many miles? Or my friend Sheila, who is always concerned about my welfare even when she is most despondent? Or my religious parents, who were once disfellowshipped for actually caring about people instead of just trying to "save" them? Or my atheist boss who everyday exemplifies gratitude and the sort of humility that comes from really believing in equality? My grandmother who traded pies for tamales, who insisted on being known by her first name by her neighbors because she was her own person, not her husband's. My grandpa, who completely agreed. I could go on and on. But the point is, all these people have had and continue to have an enormous affect on me. When I lose one of them to death, they will still be alive--in me. And if I go first, I will be alive in them. We are all shaping lives yet to come, people who will never know our names. Our personalities and goals, our hopes and dreams, everything that is essentially what we think of as our consciousness, we get that from other people, from people who are around us now, and from the people in the past who passed on their hopes and dreams. When I die, then, my awareness of consciousness will stop, but what is essential about it--that belongs to the living, and always will for as long as it is worth passing on.
I was raised Christian, and taught to expect, at anytime, the end of the world and a final judgment that would leave the majority of people ever born in eternal torment. Compared to such a horrible thing, death, plain and simple, is a small thing, and the ability to participate in making the present and maybe the future more pleasant for everyone is a large and wonderful thing.
Blane, I hope all that sort of addresses your curiosity.