I headed out to a used book store the other evening and found a few decent books, one of which is "The Falls" by Joyce Carol Oates. I've only read one or two of her short stories, but she's a gifted writer so I was excited to find this novel of hers.
Anyways, I won't give any more details than necessary to avoid spoiling anything, but I do want to quote a paragraph that she wrote that blows my mind. Okay, I'm going to set you up here using my somewhat rusty 20-year-old missionary summarizing skills: A man is preparing to throw himself over one of the falls at Niagara Falls. A witness to this event is attempting to describe the power of the particular area that the suicidal man has chosen.
"The Horseshoe Falls is a gigantic cataract a half-mile long at its crest, three thousand tons of water pouring over the Gorge each second. The air roars, shakes. The ground beneath your feet shakes. As if the very earth is beginning to come apart, disintegrate into particles, down to its molten center. As if time has ceased. Time has exploded. As if you've come too near to the radiant, thrumming, mad heart of all being. Here, your veins, arteries, the minute precision and perfection of your nerves will be unstrung in an instant. Your brain, in which you reside, that one-of-a-kind repository of you, will be pounded into its chemical components: brain cells, molecules, atoms. Every shadow and echo of every memory erased."
The last part of that exerpt is what really gets me, the part that refers to your brain as who you are. I've come to embrace that concept, but I don't think it will ever cease to blow my mind. I mean, it makes 100% sense, but after a lifetime of being conditioned to believe that there is no real "end" to our existence at least on a spiritual level, the idea of my own mortality and the thought that one day I will simply cease to exist really makes my jaw drop.
I've learned to take this life for granted because there was always something better waiting for me on the other side. All of my enemies would be rewarded for their deeds, I would get the love and respect I deserve for eternity, and the universe in essence would be made right. What a superb recipe for a wasted life. I'm SO glad that I've left the church and that I'm no longer a zombie/sheep/victim of the church's "inspired direction." I'm SO glad that I think for myself now. Better late than never.