As human beings, we're born with two pieces of knowledge that no other animal on the planet possesses, that we are going to die at some point and that our lives are supposed to fill some kind of higher purpose.
Where other species go about their lives following little more than their instincts and their emotions, we, the so-called civilized beings, spend our time in a race against our own mortality while striving to find some higher purpose or greater meaning in our existences. We are not content on merely surviving, we need to thrive, to be more, to do more, to create more and to leave behind more than anything else on the planet.
To validate this, we create things. We create order, we make laws, we invent ideas like money and we try to establish things like culture that somehow express this hidden knowledge, this uneasy understanding, of our own mortality and our place in the universe. After all, isn't everything we do outside of the fundamentals of survival just a means of covering up our own mortality and our pathetic existence. Be it entertainment to help us forget or creation to make it less poisonous, everything we do, in one way or another is designed to put at ease the curse we carry from day one. That foul knowledge we don't like to speak of.
Yes, death is imminent. Yes, life is supposed to mean something. But are we truly better off knowing that? Does it really help us to live from day to day with the knowledge that it could all come to an end in a blink of the eye and that our entire existence might have fallen painfully short of its intended goal? Granted, monkeys don't build wonderful societies, but they don't have psychiatrists either. Dogs may not have perfect lives but at least they aren't forced to wrestle endlessly with the futility of their own existence, they live, they eat, they find happiness in simple things and they die peacefully. It may not be a perfect life, but in many ways it's better than any life we could hope for.
But since we obviously can't go back to living like animals, the genie once let free will never go back in the bottle, we need to realize that everything we've achieved our societies, our cultures, our systems, our ideals and even our way of life is nothing more than an expression of our simple, morbid knowledge. Between fighting off boredom, trying to feel productive and working to become more civilized, almost none of man's achievements are due to anything but our endless need to fight what makes us so special.
That's why I don't fear my mortality; I embrace it. With open eyes I can be productive, fill the time I have on this planet doing the things I want without tricking myself into believing it's something we all know it's not. Because the truth is there, inside all of us, and it will either see the light of day or rot in the pit of our stomachs, eating us like a cancer from the inside out. I will not let that happen to me.
My mortality and my understanding thereof is what makes me special and it's also what makes my time so special. A second spent is a second never to be reclaimed. A deer might not understand that, but I do and I intend to use every second to my time the best way I can, furthering my own happiness and the happiness of those around me.
You see, the one lesson I know we can learn from the animals is that happiness is the highest state of existence and being able to find joy in the smallest of things is the secret to leading the fullest life possible. If everyone did that, then our mortality wouldn't matter and our morbid knowledge wouldn't be so damnably morbid. We'd all be able to open our eyes to the truth and see it as it is, without batting an eyelash or wincing in fear.
That's a truly great world, a world with the best of mankind and the greatest of animal kind. It's a peaceful, happy world that I hope I get to live in someday. But if not, I hope I find it within myself, after all, given the world around me, I think that it's my only hope…