I’m an atheist. I think I believe that death is the end of consciousness. But the idea of hell still has this grip on my mind. Maybe because it’s what I feel I deserve. The thought of being trapped in a never-ending state of misery and despair – that somehow seems like what I have coming. That there’s nothing I can do about it.
Which is crazy. As far as I know, all religious concepts of hell have some kind of ‘escape clause’, at least while you’re still alive. If I really believe that’s my future, shouldn’t I be confessing my sins, or living a life of pure altruism, or doing all I can to change my character? What else could be more important?
But rationally, I don’t believe. And emotionally, I feel that no matter what I do, I will always be damned. I could confess all my crimes, cure cancer, solve world hunger, and I would still be someone who deserved to suffer, alone for all eternity. How fucked is that?
So, what’s a meaningful use of the few years I have left not burning in agony?
Perhaps a meaningful use of the next few years, or perhaps many years, is to chart a course for the future. What do you like to do? What do you want to do in life? What would it take to do it?
There are lots of things I like doing, when I’m in the right mood. But when it comes to what I actually want to do ‘in life’, I draw a blank. Anything that seems genuinely worthwhile involves other people. And for me, that means pretending to be better than I am, so people will accept me – it means deception.
There can be things worth doing that might not involve as many people… Computer programming, working as an actuary, designing buildings as an architect… are among the valued jobs that might not involve a ton of people. There are plenty of others. While you’ll almost always work with at least a few people,mthere are positions with a lot less colleagues and customers involved.
Putting on a front constantly can be exhausting. That I know.