I'm sorry. This one got away from me.
"To calm this girl down, to get her to listen, I tell her the the story about my fish. This is fish number six hundred and forty-one in a lifetime of goldfish. My parents bought me the first one to teach me about loving and caring for another living breathing creature of God. Six hundred and forty fish later, the only thing I know is everything you love will die."
Did that get your attention? Good. Here's another one:
"You think maybe if you just work harder and faster, you can hold off the chaos, but then one day you're changing a patio lightbulb with a five-year life span and you realize how you'll only be changing this light maybe ten more times before you'll be dead."
You know, I really used to think I was a death fetishist until I started reading Chuck Palahniuk. Then I realized that I didn't know anything about death at all. At least nothing that a five year old looking at an encyclopedia entry on pandas couldn't figure out on his own. The real question is not "What is death?" but more like "What is after death?". And like all really good questions, there are no neat and tidy answers.
So what do you think? Endless cycles of birth and rebirth? Heaven and Hell? Dirt and Maggots? Maybe you're like Socrates in Phaedo and you believe in the divine company and guidance of bodiless immortal souls. Of all the suggestions I've ever heard, the last one is probably my favourite; but then again I also believe in cybernetic immortality. I'll tell you another thing too: I think that anyone who thinks they can give you a definitive answer to this question is fucking nuts. This is not an attack on religion (I'm sorry, the swearing might have distracted you). Religion, of course, offers many solutions to these types of difficult problems. The problem with these solutions is that they rely on faith, and faith (as any religious person will tell you) is no mean feat. Scientists seem to have a particularly difficult time with this type of thing, but (contrary to popular belief) if you are not asked to be a creationist or a literalist, there is still plenty of room in your philosphy for religion. I mean if you can believe in the spontaneous generation of organic life from a hodgepodge of previously inoragnic elements is it really that much of a stretch to think that there might have been some divine intervention to kick off the whole chain of events way back at the big bang? (I know, I know, who moves the mover?).
So where do you go from there? Doubt? Do you do your own little version of the Cartesian melodrama and begin by doubting everything around you? Not quite. Trying to define something by what it isn't is like chasing your own tail and is generally considered to be "bad form" in most philosophical circles (no pun intended). However, when dealing with these types of questions, all bets are off and deciding what you don't believe can sometimes be quite useful; it can help you describe the fuzzy borders of what would otherwise be an entirely amorphous entity. The bidirectional sublimation of unbelief and belief in this type of excercise is probably unavoidable (PS I would like to apologize for the ungainly nature of that last phrase). It's best to do this stream of consciousness style:
Well there it is. Did you see it? God and not God. I guess some questions just can't be answered. Of course, that doesn't mean that they shouldn't be asked; it just means that sometimes you should try unask the question and hope for the best.
This coming of age Nodeshell Challenge has been brought to you by ideath and hoopy_frood