Do You Want to Die with Me?

by Akim Reinhardt

Come die with me.

I don’t literally mean die. Or with me. Or want.

Do you ____ to ___ with another person/persons or by yourself?

Are there any verbs you’d like to cast about as you sit alone beneath a budding tree, or amid the carnage of rampaging armies? I’m just asking. Not that death is an option.

Death is just an illusion, created by kindly, ancient priests from lost civilizations who sought to give people hope. The truth is, we’re trapped in this life for all of eternity. There is no ending, only a distant beginning long forgotten, and a ceaseless parade of moments, unbeckoned and following a riotous route of their own determining. Marching forward, marching sideways, marching forward, time never stopping.

You are awake. You are asleep. It is all the same. You are trapped in a fleshy, boney cocoon. Rub your eyes and sigh. Turn your head and scan all the objects around you. Listen to the soft hum, the volcanic roar, the mild ringing, the clacking cacophony, the quiet exasperation slipping past your lips.

Feel everything. You feel nothing. Smack your tongue against the back of your ivory teeth, perhaps some of them metal or porcelain. Brush them again, I dare you. Wash, rinse, repeat. Wash, rinse, repeat. washrinserepeatrepeatrepeat.

Why take that drink of water? Why bother? Other than to stave off something better, something worse. Step towards the glass and watch the water ripple slightly from the vibrations issuing forth when your foot strikes the floor heel-to-toe. More urine, more shit, more bile and phlegm and snot.

Slowly run your fingers through your hair, through your beard if you’re bald, through your crotch if you have neither. They tell you it’s dead, this hair. They tell you that every life form is part of a species, part of a genus, a family, an order, a class, a phylum, this blessed land and kingdom. Your hair is not dead. It has neither sought nor received such relief. Grab your hair. Seize inevitability by the fistful and cry out.

There should be more. Or perhaps there should not have been anything at all. Spin round in dizzying circles til you fall to the ground, gravity finally claiming you when your defenses against it weaken and collapse, as they always do, at the end of each day when you lie down and close your eyes, and absolutely nothing changes as everything goes dark.
People have two ways to construct their sense of reality: they rely upon their senses, or they accept what another person or people tell them. They believe the sky is blue because their eyes see a blue sky. They believe in God because, for as long as they’ve been alive, most everyone they know has told them that God is real. So the sky is blue and God is real. One is a complex neurological response to matter and energy, the other is an idea humans have made up; but they’re both real if you see and believe.

Only human beings, so far as we can tell, are capable of manufacturing abstract meaning. But perhaps that is because we refuse to listen to dogs, great apes, and puffer fish. Or rather, don’t know how to listen to them. Do they suffer existential crises? Are their actions guided by visions of an afterlife? Perhaps. But all we can confirm so far is that humans are capable of, and perhaps given to, pondering what it all means. Even though it may not mean anything at all. It may very well be that humanity’s defining characteristic is using abstract thought to invent and embrace illusion.

Voluminous brands of morality, ethics, and other less formal belief systems guide people’s actions; the nuances and details are seemingly endless. After a few hundred thousand years of sitting around campfires, staring up at the sky, and contemplating big questions, humans have forged ready-made answers for just about any What Is The Meaning Of Life question one might ask. Much of it is grounded in the supernatural and couched in vagaries. The former is understandable because in a pre-scientific world, not much was actually knowable. The latter is understandable because in our scientific world, many things are knowable, but the meaning of life ain’t one of ‘em. Perhaps because it is not of this world.

Matter, energy, and ideas: everything you observe, everything you think you know, falls into one of these three categories. Matter has mass and weight. Energy moves something against a force. Everything else is an idea. Love. Courage. Freedom. Failure. Elan. And the words. All the words, each one of them, whether vocalized, inscribed, or acted out, a symbol representing something else, whether real or imagined. We float in a sea of abstraction, bobbing upon the undulating waves of esoteric meaning. Or are we drowning in it, weighed down by reality, gulping and choking upon make believe until it utterly subsumes us?

The urge to discover what it all, or even any of it, means is strong. But perhaps all meaning is tautology; its truth exists in our repetition of its truth. I believe, therefore I am. Credo, ergo sum.  πιστεύω λοιπόν ότι είμαι.  Ndiyakholwa ke ngoko.  .أعتقد أني كذلك  Wawičala ehaŋuŋ wauŋ.  我相信所以我在.  O lea ua ou talitonu ai.  मुझे विश्वास है इसलिए मैं हूँ.

There is no meaning. Only matter and energy, each one of us a race track of molecules and heat, destined to burnout and fragment, all the conservable energy transferring elsewhere, all the matter unhinging and recombining into other things, and all the ideas as they ever were, never really here except as we imagined them.

Do you want to die with me?

Shards of Akim Reinhardt’s existence are poorly represented at his website,