During one undergraduate philosophy class that I remember particularly well, we discussed someone's (the author was a phenomenologist, but I don't recall which) belief that all that we do is somehow motivated by our fear of death. I remember the class so well because I thought this was baloney and was surprised to find that I was the only one.
My views on this have not changed, even though, as I get older, I occasionally get a bit dizzy when confronted with evidence of the brevity of even very full lives. Death is a limitation with which I am coming to terms. And tonight, for the first time, it occurred to me that sg lives with the same limitation.
Of course, I have thought plenty about sg's mortality—before, during and after her birth I knew that not every baby comes home from the hospital. When I set up the baby monitor in the nursery, I was forced to accept that SIDS, the worst-case scenario, would be silent and sudden. But I hadn't considered before tonight that even if sg lives to be a great-grandmother, her life will be short and full of unfinished business.
One of the women in the photo above is my grandmother. Several of these women are likely dead, and it's doubtful that any of the others get out much any more. And they are all daughters, maybe all wives and mothers, too. For a moment tonight, as I was scanning in the old family photos, I saw the generations between sg and these women collapsed and it hit home that we are all the walking dead.
Which is why being motivated by a fear of death is so very silly—I mean, imagine a fish motivated by a fear of water!