Eventually we die. We all know that. And, just to be clear, we’re going to do it alone. Make no mistake, it is a confrontation which no amount of hand-holding will eliminate or assuage. What however we may not fully appreciate in addition to these two certainties – that we will die and that we will be alone – is that everything we do in life is a preparation for that final moment. Each act and event leading to that fateful day draws us incrementally closer to it. It isn’t merely axiomatic, it is empirical. This calamity does not however render absurd whatever we do until then, nor does it mean that the life that we have is without ultimate significance, value or purpose. What it does mean is that we cannot escape having to consider our own being. Alone.
For a social person such as I, the intensity of daily living not only enlivens me but may in fact also sustain me. The diminution of that intensity likewise has at least initially the reverse effect. As one’s occupation in life declines for whatever reason the potential arises that self-expression subsides as well and that fact once again brings us closer to the lonely contemplation of who we are. Eventually there is nothing else to do.
The drying up of the sap of our being is not altogether inconvenient. For one thing, we tire. It is impossible that we will go on doing what we’ve always done forever. In any event even if one is determined to continue “being productive” it is inescapable that Nature will teach us how to die. This does not imply that the process will be rushed (other than in the sense that Time slips away inexplicably). Until the moment comes when we must die and bear death alone, we can begin to welcome the isolation. All life’s former congregations, communications, couplings and coordinations will dissolve in the face of our ultimate singularity. If we’re lucky we’ll have time to contemplate that loneliness.