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Life is short; carpe diem

The Age front page 19/6/2007A shooting yesterday morning in the city (a few blocks from where I work) left one dead and two injured. Quite an unusual event, which had police and media swarming over the area. A Channel 10 cameraman I spoke to said it was pandemonium in their newsroom. (But no, despite what you might have read, the CBD did not go into “lockdown”. A number of buildings were sealed, and streets closed. No more than that.)

One can only feel for the family of the man killed, who was apparently a bystander seeing if he could help a woman being attacked. Ren just about saw it happen.

Having it happen nearby is one thing. People with a personal link to you dying makes it all the more real. It turns out a colleague’s mother-in-law passed-away over the weekend after a long illness.

And — more of a shock — an ex-colleague, who had come out of retirement recently to resume working had also passed-away, suddenly, on Friday. If he’d been unhealthy, he hadn’t complained about it. Always cheerful. RIP, John M.

I’ve been thinking a bit recently about mortality anyway. It might have been sparked by my grandmother passing away, or getting more conscious of my kids growing up and me getting older. (Is there a median age for mid-life crises? Ah, it’s 46 apparently.)

Some people have particular religious beliefs that come into play. I don’t. I guess I’d be defined as a Weak Agnostic: Maybe some people have figured it all out, but I haven’t yet.

So I don’t know what to think about issues such as life-after-death. A very strange (and spiritual) dream I had as a kid, accounts from others of near-death experiences, and I suppose plain simple hope leads me to think there’s something. Quite frankly the prospect of nothingness, of completely ceasing to be after death, scares me a little.

Okay, so I’m rambling. Whatever the truth, these are the sorts of background thoughts that have me occasionally talking/posting about the kind of “get off the bench” stuff that Cam’s been talking about. Making the most of life. Seizing the day. That kind of thing.

By Daniel Bowen

Transport blogger / campaigner and spokesperson for the Public Transport Users Association / professional geek.
Bunurong land, Melbourne, Australia.
Opinions on this blog are all mine.

7 replies on “Life is short; carpe diem”

I had one friend who walked right by yesterdays event only a few moments after it had happened, she says she’s okay but I’m not so sure. I was probably walking up Degraves street as the perpetrator was running from the scene and dumping his gun on the building site, who knows he may have walked right by me after escaping the scene. And then I discovered I know someone who knew the man that died very well. All in all a very sobering day, it could have been any one of us. Very, very sad. I hope he gets what’s coming to him.

News reports of people getting shot are an almost daily occurance here in Miami. This is also true in most large American cities. I was once hit in the leg from a 9mm bullet shot into the air to celabrate new years eve. This proves that what goes up does come down somewhere. I was very lucky and very unlucky at the same time. The bullet could have just as easily landed in my skull. I am glad that this is more rare in Melbourne(where I hope to be living soon after I get my skills visa). This story was in the news here in the USA on CNN today.

And it was on the CBC website this morning, and on the news as well. Yes, sadly it takes somebody losing their life to pay attention to Australia *dry laugh here* but anyway, my deepest sympathies to those families affected. Violence of any sort is unsettling, but this is just awful. Way way too awful, and brutal. I hope we all take a moment, and say to whomever you want, thanks for letting me be here, still, and taking a breath, and living. A sobering thought that tomorrow we well may not be. Yeah, I’m 46 this year *laughs* Mid life crisis pending? LOL, we’ll see.

> So I don’t know what to think about
> issues such as life-after-death.

1. Look up Pascal’s Wager bro.

> Quite frankly the prospect of nothingness,
> of completely ceasing to be after death,
> scares me a little.

2. DUDE! You don’t know your Hamlet?? It is NOT the eternal sleep that’s scary, it is what dreams may come. Must give us pause

Hey Daniel,
Interesting piece today, thanks for writing it. Was John M. someone from the Atlas days? My memory is going fuzzy from those days, but I remember a VB programmer and a DBA both called John.

Re: near-death experiences, I think they’re just a result of what the brain does when its under the stress of almost dying. Oxygen starvation, high level of various hormones blasting around it. I read that fighter pilots get the “light at the end of tunnel” effect under high Gs, manuevers that push blood out of their head.

But you already know I’m an atheist :)

You shouldn’t worry about nothingness after death. There was millions of years of nothingness BEFORE your birth and that hasn’t scared you. It’s the dying that’s the scary bit for me; not death.
You should read ‘The God Delusion’ by Richard Dawkins. Its brilliant at summing up religeon!

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