Fear of death vs. fear of life

. 2 min read

When I was in junior high, one of the teachers inquired the students on one class what they thought people feared most. Most of the students remained silent. I, the nerd desperate to prove herself as I was, put my hand up and said, "death." The teacher shook his head - apparently this was the wrong answer. Really? I thought. Okay, how about the unknown? (The answer he was looking for was "other people". Deep, huh.)

While this question has a lot of individual answers - and I doubt we'll ever get to the bottom of the real right answer as to what people (in average) fear most (would they even agree to tell?), at least some people seem to fear death. So much, in fact, that they'll do everything in their power during their lifetime to make themselves immortal. And by immortality I mean that some mark of them remains in the universe after they're gone. Some people leave their mark by making children. Some build skyscrapers. Some write larger-than-life novels. Some break ground on new insights in physics. Some colonize Mars. Anything to have their name on a history book. (And sure, maybe because changing the world gives them meaning or gratification or something.)

But what about fear of life?

Since those junior high days, I've seem to have lost my fear of death completely - and replaced it with its a-hundred-times-worse opposite. When you fear life, you fear immersing yourself so intensely in either the present moment or an experience that you lose yourself. In other words, especially if you live in a simulation, you fear that the information overflow of your immediate surroundings is so overwhelming that you can't handle it and your CPU burns out in smoke.

I only speak for myself, but the fear of not being able to handle life is sometimes so paralyzing that I'm able to do nothing. Next to that, death isn't something to be feared. But I don't want to die - yet - and I don't want to go crazy, so what can I do? Push the information back and create some sort of metaphysical cling film between me and the more or less objective reality? Create an illusion (Otto Rank style) to handle life? Consume some drug to deny these thoughts altogether?

Sip more bulletproof salted caramel latte, devote myself to a lifelong project, and forget I ever feared anything?