I lie in bed with you next to me. I turn to the window and see the first pinks and oranges of the morning just now visible through the leafless branches of the neighbor’s trees. It looks chilly outside, even from this warm place. With my glasses on the nightstand, and somewhat myopic eyes, the rising sun blurs through those trees and for a moment I imagine the whole neighborhood on fire.
Then I imagine my death. Not “how I will die,” or “why.” But the moment of my coming death. Someday. Slipping into nothingness. I wonder what nothingness feels like. Is it truly a nothingness? And I recall something I read recently about the question of what happens after death – the same as before birth! And I chuckle at the absurdity of the question itself.
Such a strange feeling, sometimes, this feeling of self-ness. Self. I let my mind wander a little more about how this otherwise random collection of atoms has self organized to create this feeling of itself. This awareness of me.
And then I remember being a young boy. Maybe eight or nine, or maybe ten. About the age of my older son. I remember being that young boy and lying in his bed and wondering the same thing. Who is this person I am? How is it that I am? That was nearly forty years ago and that strange, fleeting feeling, the awareness of self, has changed little. And I say “little” really to hedge my bet on the chance that it has changed at all. It’s probably mostly unchanged.
I become aware of the time and take a deep breath. My mind nudges me away from my self and on to other things. Kids, school, work, email, coffee. I hear your breathing as you sleep, and the sound of warm air shushing through the heating vents.
This morning, I am still alive.