You used to flatter me sometimes, when we had conversations about what we really should be doing with our lives, and what perfect jobs our characters were suited to, by saying that I would make a good King. The old fashioned sort, who was brave and noble and ruled fairly and whom everyone loved. Or maybe it was me who came up with that idea!
We also used to say I would make a good non-religious priest. Someone full of wisdom and caring who would impart his wonderful warm character on other people, would help them, counsel them, all the things a good priest might do, but without the faith, which I didn’t have.
You used to encourage me to express myself in writing, to write essays about the world, about my outlook towards things. There was never time though, it was always something on the ‘to do’ list that never got done.
But hey, now I have time on my hands (eternity in fact) so maybe I can impart some wisdom and sentiment through you! But how to begin my ‘ministry’?
All 7 or more billion of you! Every single one of you is right now on the opposite side of a divide from me, a horrible big thick iron curtain of a divide, the boundary between life and death.
But every single one of you will one day be over here on my side of that ultimate boundary. In a hundred or so years, none of you 7 billion will be on the planet, you’ll have died and been replaced by a new lot.
How can we bear to know we are going to die? Of course people shouldn’t walk around fearing it every minute, you have to take life for granted to a certain extent, or you wouldn’t be able to function.
The people who are alive, all those people around you, in the street, on the bus stop, on telly, at work – they are all there by default, all on the life side of the divide. And yet slowly – or actually not so slowly – they are gradually all dropping away, like the boundary between life and death is a sieve, a strainer, and all the time poor souls are falling through, dropping out, with most of those left living not even noticing their passing.
There is no solution, there is no message. If you cannot believe there is anything beyond death, you have only this life you hold in your hands now, in this precious minute.
Cling to it, treasure it, make the most of it – hope it lasts you a little longer.
And be happy.
And help people.
(Oh well, maybe I wouldn’t have made such a good priest after all.)