It turns out I made this choice long ago.
Nothing in life is certain, other than death. To live is to experience mortality. This fact terrifies many, but I’ve never been particularly bothered by the idea that my existence isn’t forever. Despite its challenges and frustrations, I’ve enjoyed an often joyful and consistently interesting life. Celebrating that it happened and making the most of it feels a lot more important to me than feeling anxious that it must eventually come to an end. Knowing there’s an eventual end actually brings me a sense of relief.
Death is also unpredictable. I could be staying socially distant here at home and following every precaution and die suddenly by choking on a piece of food or suffering a brain aneurism. When I set out to write a story about how and when I’m going to die, I claim no absolute certainty or supernatural capacity to predict the future. I’m simply making the most informed observations about probability that I can based on the best available evidence I’ve got.
This is about how I put my life into the context of the great age of dying that has come for the civilization around me.
Covid’s killed a lot of people, but it’s not an enormous number within the context of our global multitude. At least, not yet. We face everything from heart disease and cancer to warfare and car accidents as well. All of it’s happening within a larger context of collapsing ecosystems brought about mainly by what we’re doing to the climate, which will make obstacles like interrupted supply chains feel like winning the lottery by comparison. If we avoid blowing our future to hell in some sort of thermonuclear holocaust, we’re still headed for a brutal struggle for survival on a radically transformed planet.
For engaged environmental activists that have been paying attention, it’s easy to get overwhelmed by the truly staggering scope of all of this. Even something as simple as breakfast seems beset on all sides by insurmountable obstacles. Changing weather patterns endanger agricultural yields. Degradation of topsoils threatens to give us fewer places to root our crops. Declining pollinator numbers can imperil staple fruits and vegetables. The green revolution of agricultural plenty through chemical fertilizers faces a global…