7/36--Death Hunch

I was blanking on what to write about this week (not a good sign! I've got 50--49--more of these to do!) so I thought I'd go back to the 36 questions.

The next one on the list is a little morbid: Do you have a secret hunch about how you will die?


There, good post, huh?

But seriously, folks. I don't spend that much time thinking about the how of death. It seems a lot like birth, to me: probably painful for everyone involved, probably messy, probably takes longer than anyone would like. Probably something incomprehensibly different on the other side.

I think about how my kid gained some kind of awareness about six or so months into my pregnancy (give or take), at which point the environment that existed to experience had been largely the same for a while. The kid had three months to become accustomed to all of its beauty and comfort: the warmth, the steady sound of the blood tide bringing the day's nutrients, the soft cushions of being inside someone else's body. Was it like dying, I wonder, to be forced out of that existence and into the next?

Here's the thing: all change is death, isn't it? Heraclitus fairly famously claimed that one could never step into the same river twice, as both the river and the individual would have changed. Dude lived 2500 years ago, and had probably never heard of all cells replacing themselves every seven years. (Turns out that's misleading, by the way. Different cells have different turnover rates. Fat cells: 10 years. Certain heart cells: it's complicated and kind of Xeno's Paradox-y, but something like probably 1000 years? Hard to say. Cerebral cortex neurons: never.)

Nevertheless, Heraclitus had the right idea. On a purely physical level, I'm not now the same person I was last year, or last week, or yesterday, or even when I started this blog post. I've lost or gained weight, cut my fingernails, shed several shower drains full of hair, recklessly abandoned skin cells in every corner of my house. The person I was is dead, if death means never-coming-back. I die ever second. To exist is to die.

So I guess maybe the answer is a qualified "sort of"? Do I have a secret hunch about how I will die? I don't need to guess how I'll die. I'm doing it every time I take a breath. Death is change. It holds both no mystery and all of it.