Part of the Bury Yourself writing project.
When you arise in the morning, think of what a precious privilege it is to be alive – to breathe, to think, to enjoy, to love.
— Marcus Aurelius
No one wants to think about what happens when they die.
How will it feel? What happens to you? What will the people around you feel? The questions are endless if you allow yourself to think a lot about death.
The strange thing about living life is that you never truly think about death until you watch another person be born. You bring them into the world, marvel at how magical life is, and wonder about how much of their life you will be around for. Death is the one topic you want to avoid talking to them about as they grow older. My daughter is not even five yet, and I have had already had to help explain it to her with the death of a family dog and a baby (a distant relative) who died within their first six months.
It’s never easy, regardless of how old someone is.
Talking to her about death makes me start to think more about my own mortality and what happens when I will die.
I have no control over how people will cope, especially my daughter. The only thing I can really prepare them for is to describe what I want done with my possesions, my material wealth, and, a real First World Problem, my digital goods.
After hearing about the process of deciding what to do with what when my grandfather passed away and then when my grandmother decided to move into a condo, made me appreciate what happens after death. Living in a house for around 30 years, they had quite a collection. Not junk, either. They were worldly travellers, living in southeast Asia for a good portion, travelling throughout the United States, Canada, Australia, and so forth. There was precious Chinese artwork purchased during the Cultural Revolution, shadow puppets from Indonesia, furniture from their parents or grandparents, and, of course, books. Lots and lots of books.
I am not a minimalist. I would describe myself as a non-materialist. I do own stuff, but I don’t stress about how much stuff I have and what would happen if I lost it. I make a conscious effort not to have an attachment to said stuff. My condo could burn down tonight, I would be upset, but I would not be heartbroken over losing x, y, and z.
My most valuable possessions are all digital: my writing, my photos, and home videos. As hard drive space has exploded and online storage has become more accessible, I am creating more and more digital stuff. Over 12 gigabytes of photos and home videos, over 300 digital pieces on my blog, previous University papers, and digital eBooks. When I look through all that stuff, I start to think about how long of a process this would be. It will only be worse if I end up living another 40-50 some years and digital media is as prevalent as it is now.
I question whether anyone else will look at it, know what is valuable, what has personal meaning, and what is worthless. My immediate family would be able to piece a good portion of it together, with assistance from Facebook commentary.
The remainder will then get stored onto an USB flash drive (or the equivalent in the future), and carried around for as long as the data is readable.
Which is how I would like it. Let my body perish into the sands of the world, but allow my digital life to carry on for another hundred years or longer past my mortal life.