Being forgotten

Posted on Oct 31, 2012

I was chatting with a friend of mine today and he asked me a question, What are you most afraid of? His answer was dying, he is afraid of dying. And that got me thinking, what about me, what scares the hell out of me?

For me, Death is a part of life just as much as cell division and protein formation and the many other less visible aspects of it are. It is inevitable, and though we’ve managed as humans to prolong life and prevent death as a consequence of many diseases, we cannot stop the process itself - nor should we. Thus, to fear death is as irrational as if one were to fear the earth’s rotation or the laws of thermodynamics. And consequently, equally irrational is it to claim to know what happens when one dies.

But being forgotten - that is a legitimate fear. Because if one is forgotten, that means when one dies and their molecules begin the long process of being recycled into all other types of objects, both living and non-, there really remains no trace of that individual’s existence. All of the achievements, the stresses and struggles and failures and victories, for naught. This brings an interesting thought experiment, akin to the tree in the forest puzzle - if no one is there to record another’s achievements, are they still achievements?

And yet, after a point, we are all forgotten. Even those greatest amongst us, who have volumes and volumes of literature dedicated to the facts of their existence. Paper decays; memories, when passed from generation to generation, become distorted; even the digital bits are eventually recycled for new purposes. And even if one’s biography survives until the end of human existence, or the end of the universe for that matter, if the entropy of the universe is always increasing to the point where we end up in a cold, dead, absolute zero system then…

So, what scares me the most? “Being forgotten”.

Share Tweet