Death, ha! Been there, done that.

     Something @elgan said as she turned 50+ clicked some cogs in my brain, and the once-rusting wheels are now spinning merrily.
   In fact, the Smartness Gear is now lined up with the Happy Wheel for the first time in years. And of course I want to share it with my friends here:
1) You were dead for 13 1/2 Billion Years. From the Big Bang which started this Cosmic Nonsense until mid- or late 21st Century of the Current Era.
The home-stretch of our Great Waiting was the 65-or-so Million years since  something awfully big plunged into the Yucatan and ‘f*cked up the dinosaurs’ junk big-time‘. I remember watching the thing on Galactic big-screen, just hoping the little furry guys still left alive would evolve into beings I’d enjoy inhabiting when my little chance finally came. And sure enough, I bet on the right horse, so to speak; I’m kinda tickled to be a mammal.

2) Yeah, it was touch and go in the Dark Ages. The earliest ancestor on my father’s side whom I’ve documented, Abraham Solberg, built the first house in Solberg, Switzerland. Google Earth lets me virtually-visit there these days, but in his time, with a future wise-guy on Xanga 17 generations later to worry about, it must have been tough. For five hundred years, each Solberg in turn shopped for the cutest, smartest girl in town to ‘mate with’, each time adding a few extra bonus-points to the genes. Thanks, guys. Hope I done the same; a family tradition, I guess.

3) You are probably objecting to calling this ‘dead’. A better word? ‘Un-born’? Um, that’s for fetuses. ‘Unaware’? Nah, assumes one had an awareness, but it’s just ‘off-line’. No, I was dead. Really stone-cold dead until Life arose on the slowly-cooling third planet from the Sun we all love a billion or so years into the Solar System history. After that lucky break I existed as a bio-chemical potential, a propensity…. Up until 17 April 1949. (Or nine months earlier, but I refused to count my chicken till she hatched.)
I was born feet-first, all the better to get a running start. So damned excited! You would be too, if you knew you’d only get one short dance on stage, after waiting like an idiot 13 Billion years. Makes waiting at the DMV feel like an eye-blink.

So you get 80, 100 years, or more, to have fun. You quickly try to play catch-up; read all the history you can get your hands on, what happened while you were out of the loop, so to speak.
And then one day it’s over. I know this. Used to piss me off. Couldn’t even stand to read articles about space missions scheduled for a 2050 launch. Life in the 22nd Century? I closed my eyes and ears, and held my nose.
But all that’s changed. I now feel sublimely honored to have my head above water at least for a little while. To do what any sentient creature would do in the situation; learn about the current world, have fun, maybe make babies, chat with the other beings who happen to be alive during the same global heartbeat. And when it’s over, back to being ‘dead’. Hey, I got that routine down already. Must’ve been passably good at it, to wait all that time and not get depressed. And for all I know, even though I sure don’t remember any previous lives, we may be back after the commercials. One way or another, I feel lucky. And Elgan should too.


46 thoughts on “Death, ha! Been there, done that.

  1. Roadkill_Spatula

    I read an article last night from The Atlantic about how the Americas were possibly more populated than Europe at the time of the first conquistadores/colonists. There may have been 100 million people over here. The Amazon jungle may have been developed from swamp by people who raised large sections of it for cultivation. There are huge sections of eastern Bolivia that were once an advanced civilization; hundreds of miles of straight-as-an-arrow road linked ruins in the Chaco. The first Spanish conquistadores in North America found cities in Arkansas; these had vanished by the time English colonists decided being rednecks would be fun. European diseases moved rapidly ahead of the colonists to clear the way. DeSoto mentioned no bison or passenger pigeons, but a couple of hundred years later there were vast herds of buffalo and enormous flocks of passenger pigeon, perhaps resulting from the near-disappearance of humanity from North America.All of which has very little to do with what you wrote here. I’m glad you are alive at this point in time.

  2. jsolberg

    @Roadkill_Spatula – For some reason, it’s subtly on-topic, besides being fascinating to read about here. Human intervention in the Amazon basin is especially eerie to think about. I’d love to sift the ground in my garden here, down to maybe twenty feet. I might not be the first pea-planter here on the coastal plain between Jaffa and Acre.

  3. jsolberg

    @elgan – Ha, I warned you I’d had a blinding-light experience. Not sure I expressed it as deeply as the concept hit me, the morning I read your last entries. CYA after the commercials:)

  4. jsolberg

    @HappierHeathen – Thanks. I’d been getting these horrible flashes reading speculation on the distant future, like 50 years from now, and calculating my slim chances of seeing it. Guess now I realize that if I don’t see it, I won’t know what I’m missing… something like that.

  5. HappierHeathen

    The way I figure it any Very Bad Thing that might happen over which I have no control is not a worry for me, even if it’s happening or will happen to me or my loved ones. No Control = No Worries. It’s a simple equation but one that’s difficult to compute under pressure.

  6. twoberry

    What bothers me is that we’re immortal on the other end as well.  (Where else are dead and immortal synonyms?  Only in my brain.)  What’s bothersome is that even though we are eventually put out of our misery, the starstuff inside ourselves lives on to witness all of the degradations-to-be throughout eternity, and beyond.  THIS here brief ride I enjoy, despite I referenced it as miserable.  It could get better, of course.  But I’m guessing it gets worse, eons later.And now I wait for my mood to change.  It always does.

  7. mariama120

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  8. scifiknitter

    This might be the best thing I’ve read all week. My grandfather had a few famous sayings, and one was “when you’re dead, you’re dead”. Great thought to think of death as the bookmarks on this precious interlude I’m experiencing. It takes away a great deal of fear to realize that I’ve been there before.

  9. murisopsis

    If life is thought and strength and breath, and the want of thought is death. Then am I a happy fly, if I live or if I die…. Wm. Blake said it well. I’m hoping that my divine spark continues once freed from this mortal shell.

  10. sleekpeek

    It’s like those excellent stories where you keep wanting to read what happens next, but eventually the last page happens. Then the author off and writes a sequel. And so on.

  11. jsolberg

    @HappierHeathen – Yes, that’s certainly a good part of the Be Happy equation; found myself elevated just reading your comment. And remembered Bill Bryson, in ‘A History of Everything’ laying out what an incredible series of coincidences and good fortune it took for each of us to get here. Not even one of our immediate long chain of ancestors got dead before he/she could reproduce.

  12. jsolberg

    @twoberry – ha. Yeah, the ‘good news’ part of it all is slippery to hang onto. I do suppose there will come a time when the living envy the dead, and future forever-homeless space-ship dwellers will look back at a permanently-despoiled planet and call us the last lucky generation. Or not.

  13. jsolberg

    @scifiknitter – Big thank you. You hit the target there with the ‘bookmarks’ thought. And I wrote this precisely to cheer us all up, winter be damned, ha. It was even colder during the Ice Ages, and I clearly recall you saying ‘Nah, Let’s wait another 40K years or so.’ I wuz chomping at the bit, but after you explained about, like glacial lakes and sail-boating, I saw your point and went back to sleep. So thanks for that, dear.

  14. jsolberg

    @murisopsis – Yes, might as well enjoy our grain of sand in its heavenly graininess. Your “Looking at” series of posts may well become the seminal preserved document which future Museum-goers will ogle through thick glass screens. Dance on:)

  15. jsolberg

    @sleekpeek – ha. On the last page the medics fold up their gear, saying, “That’s it for Solberg.” Except for one, who watches her monitor, gives me a quick kiss, then shouts ‘Wait, look at this trace, guys. End. Or just the Beginning?


    I prefer to think of it as I didn’t exist.  The atoms I am comprised of existed long before I did, but they didn’t exist at the Bing Bang (or whatever it was) and they didn’t combine to produce ME until about 85 years ago.  I don’t know how much longer I will exist, but in the meantime I am enjoying my existence and “thanks for the use of the hall.”

  17. jsolberg

    @DEISENBERG – A perfect way to see it, D. I bow gratefully to your prior rental contract here at the Masonic Motor-Lodge and Mini-Convention center. In adjacent rooms, with thin walls, we’re lucky we like the same music, ha.Hang onto those molecules, guy.

  18. MelFamy

    I regret that I have but one rec to give. You changed my outlook on things, and for the better, I believe.I am assuming too much, and have sent this to a couple of friends.

  19. whyzat

    Instead of dead, maybe incipient. I like to think at the molecular level, too. It’s kind of cool to think that I’ve been here all this time, just in tiny pieces; and I’ll be tiny pieces once again.

  20. chromepoet

    The best cosmology I’ve read this year, perhaps this decade. I love the way you think … and envy your ancestors pursued the cutest, though I suspect the cuties had much more to say about selection than the patriarchs. But I’ve been wrong before.

  21. Defunked

    How is it that I check in on my birthday and it’s this? Thanks for succeeding, however briefly, in reconciling me with mortality.Also, have you considered publicly endorsing Mitt Romney for president? I figure that you could do a huge favor for demockracy back here if it went public that you’re behind the snazziest candidate since Kerry.

  22. jsolberg

    @chromepoet – Thanks, profusely. “It’s just what I do”, ha.That ‘search out the cutest’ is part of the little joke; Obviously using fathers’ names for sons and daughters skews the true picture of heredity horribly. Abraham S was one of a team of 64K ‘best minds of his 1500s generation’ who contributed equally to the ‘finished product’ (another poetic fallacy: the forward and upward arrow of Evolution)I am kinda happy with this re-write of the olde hymn:’Death, where is thy stink?’

  23. jsolberg

    @Defunked – What a nice surprise hearing from you. I’m flattered, and pleased to wish you many more revolutions around the Sun until you run out of academic fields to conquer, ha.As to politics; Is that you, J? I recognize the Xanga-name, but the candidates mentioned are possibly pasted-in by a Republican robot? I’d like to send Romney to a re-grooving program in China… during the Gang of Four, ha

  24. dirtbubble

    The way you set this up touches on just a few of topics I review daily, often hourly. My concern over death is not the discontinuation or absence of existence, but rather the spectacular cruelty of the termination – how body itself never gives in even a mind succumbs to apathy/despair/disgust is excruciating. I’m not a big fan of pain. I can see me watching and waiting for my moment wondering, “Ouch! It looks like it hurts. I wonder if I’ll cry for my mommy like that…”I do like your way of looking at it, in terms of pre-life being a state of death. I’ve become accustomed to thinking of myself as already dead in this life – which I pretty much am judging by my credit score.

  25. jsolberg

    @dirtbubble – As usual from your over-flowing mind; an array of viewpoints. Yes, I suppose the goal is to ‘die old, and leave a serene-looking corpse.’ My dad did that, a couple years ago at 92. Even after seeing James Dean’s alternate plan. Me-too am upside-down on Standard and Poor, I think about your thoughts often while falling asleep. Confusing my ex-s. Which one was it I drove the Al-Can highway with? I’ve lit some candles in the darkness in this reel. Yeah, with a goddamn flamethrower. It’s never Enough, though. Thanks, dB. At some point I expect to do the Right Thing. I think both of us have the Right Stuff.

  26. hellnohateyou

    This reminds me of the Socratic “proof” of life after death.If unborn means those in utero, how about unconceived? Depends on when you think your soul went into your body. If you place the soul into the body only at birth, then unborn works fine, I think. My preschool teacher told us you get those lines above your lips when you’re born and an angel kisses you and makes you forget all the torah and everything you knew before you were born, which is also why (according to her) you’re born crying. I think she would use unborn to mean those in utero as well as those not yet conceived.


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