“It’s been a good life.”

The title of this post comes from an autobiography by Isaac Asimov published posthumously by his widow, Janet, and brings up a topic I’ve written on very little before: My accident in 2007, about a year before I started blogging.

I was struck by a vehicle while at a crosswalk on my way to a nearby bus stop, planning to do some writing when I got home, though the collision and its several month-long period of recovery weren’t the important part — it was the change in my thinking up until then.

It was, to my perception at the time, a close brush with death — I was pretty messed-up by the accident, though after the stitches for the head injuries, the major damage was a broken arm and fractured hip, both now healed with time and physical therapy.

During my recovery, especially the first ten days of bedrest, I thought long and deeply about life and what it meant — and not once did those thoughts involve a return to anything resembling religious faith.

As I lay on the gurney in the ambulance, on the way to the hospital only moments after being struck, I was aware that this could be it, that this could be my end. But fear of death wasn’t involved — I was angry.

I was angry at this inconvenience that would set my writing project back months, angry at my not seeing the car before it struck me, and concerned about how this would affect my family.

If this was what it is like to die, then it wasn’t so bad. I just sat back and relaxed, and let the paramedics do their job. I might come out of this, I thought, or I might not. Either seemed perfectly acceptable at the time.

My several-hour stay at the hospital was touch and go, but I survived. And over the next few days I came to this:

Life’s been more than fair to me, much more, I think, than to many others who never had the fullness of existence I’ve had.

English: Artist's conception of the spiral str...

English: Artist’s conception of the spiral structure of the Milky Way with two major stellar arms and a central bar. “Using infrared images from NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope, scientists have discovered that the Milky Way’s elegant spiral structure is dominated by just two arms wrapping off the ends of a central bar of stars. Previously, our galaxy was thought to possess four major arms.” (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

After my accident, it’s not that I fear dying anymore, though it would be a great inconvenience. There’s a lot I would like to do first, projects to complete. It would be irritating, but not frightening, to die sooner.

I don’t fear dying because I’ve no reason to believe in an afterlife, neither hoping for reward in paradise nor fearing perdition in an imagined (and as far as I’ve reason to think, imaginary) eternal torture chamber.

But even then, life has been very good to me, and I think it has a lot going for it. There is much good to be done, much to accomplish, and life is precious, made more so with my relinquishing any belief in reward or punishment to come after.

To repeat the title, it’s been a good life, and I thank all those I’ve known, friends and family, online and real-time, past and present, for making it so.

But when I’m gone, that’s it. Lights out. No more me. Anywhere.

When I’m gone, the energy content stored up in my body’s molecules will go back to their source, returning to the Earth and the Cosmos whence they came.

Energy cannot be created or destroyed, but that doesn’t imply anything spiritual, not in a supernatural sense.

But it’s cool that the atoms I’m made of, which cycle in and then out of my body even now, have almost an immortality of a sort, and will eventually find their way into the bodies of new life arising long after my death. And you know what?

I think that’s kind of neat.

5 thoughts on ““It’s been a good life.”

  1. It really is neat. The thought that we are part of this infinite system of creation and destruction, yet it is only this form that is ever undone. All the star stuff that you are made of always has, and always will be. It is only this current experience that is fleeting. For me, it stands to reason that if all the stuff I am made of is infinite in some form or another, then perhaps there is some part of this experience that continues after this part is over. I am not saying I believe in some sky man and his dogma, but I do take some solace in the thought that I, in some form or another, am forever. Thanks for sharing your story.


  2. I think I have to flag your statement “…no more me. Anywhere. …” as being in error. You will still exist as a thought form or 6 or so, not that at that point it will matter to you. You, on your own, HAVE achieved an extended existence of sorts. You have impacted many folks with your life, who will in some variation of “…I had a friend Troy, who thought…”, will pass your imprint onto other people still, or simply remeber you with fondness.
    Then you had to commit a ‘crime’ against transitoryness. You started to write.
    Yes, you have made a mark. When you do finally kick the bucket, it may ring for quite a while before you are totally forgotten. I like to think that we are the sum total of our thoughts and actions, not just what we are in our bodies.
    Wishing us both a few more decades to try to get it right.


  3. Thanks for sharing this Troy. I ponder similar things sometimes and I think my life is pretty ordinary, but I have had a good life, better than most and I have many advantages having the education and family that I do. Can’t ask for much more really. My biggest fear is what wil happen to others that I care for when I am gone.


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