He began to think of death differently at what he took to be about half way through life. Waking in the morning, death was on his lips as he mouthed the meaning of dreams. Their images were in his mind, slowly vaporising in a swirling mist, revealing an ominous certainty like a changed landscape.
The dreams had been about a series of houses and plots of land. The first house he still remembered was gothic, ornate, made from immutable materials, carved rock and stone. It felt unmovable. The part of the dream where he had been inside had already evaporated, but he had been inside. Now he was remembering a later scene, standing outside, attempting to climb the facade, but at the same time joining in a chorus of agreement that this house was haunted, and impenetrable, but if one did find a way in, that one would die. Of dread. They could hear the spirits inside, the sounds were of wailing and groaning and death by fear alone.
Around him money spilled in coins, on to the paved stones, into the grass and weeds growing through cracks. Too many of them to be anything but a sign of impoverisnhment. The small group of good people around him helped him pick them all up.
Then a jump cut, just like a dream to jump cut, he stood on a large plot of land, playing ball with his youngest son. The ball flew two plots over and the young boy chased after it, finding routes under the fences. Such an open plot was wonderful, he stood at the top of it looking down its sloping grassy hill. But there was no house here, only its calming absence.
‘Death is not the end.’ So many people around the world claim to believe it. Who could accept it really? When it came down to the self remaining intact? There was no self, specifically, but there was memory burnt upon memory, sealed in organic matter, folded upon itself into an extraordinary, little understood and unpleasant looking wonder. When people said that death was not the end, aside from a pleasing and groundless belief, perhaps they hoped for the preservation of their experiences, their memories intact, their identity. Or perhaps they were at peace with recycling their materials into the fold of the universe, giving rise to new life.
He was not so at peace with either. To be still barely conscious of oneself and surroundings, infinite as they seemed, and uniquely resourced for higher knowledge and reflection, it struck him as wrong to be anywhere near at peace. Especially as the years passed into dreams.