Before we were born

An often cited anxiety when facing mortality comes from thinking about all of the experiences and opportunities missed due to one’s own death, or because of the loss of a loved one. I thought of that when reading this quote by Mark Twain:

I do not fear death. I had been dead for billions and billions of years before I was born, and had not suffered the slightest inconvenience from it.

It’s a condition, Twain says, identical to death to simply not yet be born. We don’t lament missing out on any of the amazing experiences that came before us in human history, to any real degree, so it suddenly seems strange to me that we would have a great deal of anxiety over not having the opportunity to live out those experiences that follow us in history. On a more personal level, we don’t suffer greatly over having missed some early parts of a loved one’s life — the years that preceded us in our grandparent’s, parent’s, or spouse’s lives — and maybe there’s some comfort in that thought when facing future parts of life that don’t include them in ours, or us in theirs. The moments we share when we are here are all the ones we get to enjoy, and those are plenty for a lifetime.