I have hesitated to write this article for some time because some, or many, readers may think the subject matter too gloomy, something they don’t want to think much about. But as years have passed, it is a subject that has been more top-of-mind than previously. The subject is whether there is an afterlife.
Somewhere along the road of life I felt that living life was extremely complicated, so I thought for some time about a mental visual that would help put it all in perspective. I won’t bore you with the options considered, but the winner was a six-foot display table like you see at trade shows and other events all the time.
Life began at the left edge of the table and moved from left to right. In my case, there’s little Larry being born at an early age at Harper’s Hospital in Detroit, then enjoying his early years in a beautiful home on a lake, then moving to Florida to enjoy more than just the summer months, then on to college, law school, practicing law, getting married, etc. Each addition or change was represented on the table by a building, an animal, an event, whatever reminded me of that part of my life.
Making this long story shorter, it was obvious that there would come a time when the Grim Reaper would visit me, and the table would end. Even if we weren’t at the right edge of the table, the table in my imagination ended and everything stopped. It was kind of like I fell off the table.
But as I sat next to my table, I wondered why I was put through this life of love, excitement, victories, heart-breaks, injuries, diseases and all the other things we encounter in life, only to fall off the table at the end. Was that my only purpose in being here.? Was that all I had to contribute to the greater power that caused me to be here?
That thought bothered me for a few years until I concluded that there has to be more in store for me, and everyone else, than to have a switch flicked and it’s over. Part of my conclusion was reached because of my father. He wasn’t born into a rich family but worked hard in school and could have had a college football scholarship but instead joined Uncle Sam in WW I and marched across France until the war ended. After the Army, he joined a corporation as a janitor, taught himself accounting, became the company’s financial advisor, then president. He married, had two kids and had a good retirement until heart attacks ended his life. If that was the end of his being, what was his legacy? What was his contribution to the world? Sure, he was a good man, a successful businessman, a good husband and father, but no one knows that but his family. So, his life had little impact on the rest of the world. But, I cannot accept that for him, or for the rest of us.
We must be here in some form for some further reason. I can accept that “boom” we were created by a man and a woman when previously we were nothing. But I cannot accept that it all ends with what we define as “death.”
This mental journey has made me cope with life better and feel that what I am experiencing and feeling won’t be wasted when I reach the right end of the table. I hope it has had a positive impact on you too.
Motion pictures don’t often provide us with answers to issues such as the existence of an afterlife, but maybe the 1998 film “Meet Joe Black” comes close. Towards the end of the movie, Anthony Hopkins, playing the part of a very successful businessman with great integrity, asks Brad Pitt, playing the Angel of Death, whether he should be afraid of where the Angel was taking him over the hill of life. Death’s answer was “Not a man like you.”
If there is no afterlife, what is there to be afraid of?