Robin Williams killed himself yesterday and I'm not going to offer some supposedly meaningful quote from a movie script he didn't write anyway, or say that we just don't yet understand it but God does, or like, post a comment to his now-dead self on his Instagram account. He will not be reading Instagram any longer, not from heaven or hell or somewhere in between. This manic, too smart person who struggled with addiction and had three kids and two ex-wives and didn't slide away into oblivion like whomever Mindy was from Mork and Mindy---he still couldn't find a reason to live. Like, he built a film career which is rare for people starting out in sitcoms and he was supposedly doing what he loved and that wasn't enough. And maybe it wasn't what he wanted it to be or maybe he hated Sarah Michelle Gellar and thought that sit-com was crap (it was crap, really, not funny, not offbeat enough), and we all die anyway so what the hell.
Except then I started thinking about what that is like to be dead, or what that is not like, what does it mean to no longer be, forever? Because I do not believe in heaven or past lives--I think those are stories we tell ourselves to avoid startling awake in a cold sweat in the middle of the night, faced with the possibility that the end is the end and it's like those dark patches when you sleep, except you never wake up to remember them.
For a long time, I told myself that even in death, you are part of the eco system, this body in the ground that will eventually become some other matter, because, yes, your body turns to dust and dirt, but I never really followed that path to its logical conclusion to test how that would work exactly. I just sort of decided that by returning to the earth, you eventually will be reborn, into something else living, like a flower, but really, the goal would be reincarnation into human form.
However, when you start to question how that might happen, the concept quickly breaks down based on the fact that dirt does not eventually become another human being, no matter how you try to make it work out, with like, a bird swallowing a clod of your remains and then pooping onto a man sleeping on the beach who accidentally ingests some of the the bird poop with your trace DNA in it and then that somehow absorbs into his blood flow and then gets funneled into the sperm canal (I mean, clearly, I was doodling nervously in health class when they explained the male reproductive system), and then that guy lives and has sex with his girlfriend, who gets pregnant, and voile! You are back in the world again. And what are the odds of all of that happening? Also keep in mind that unless you're cremated and have your ashes scattered on a bunch of seagulls, this will take like 700 years to happen, because you'd have to wait for the whole cemetery to disintegrate. So dead is dead is dead and if you are Robin Williams or Phillip Seymour Hoffman or whomever is next on the list of self-destructive people, how much time can you spend thinking about what it's like to be nothing or how much it will wound the people you leave behind?
I suppose that's the goal all along; you don't want to feel any more, not the good or the bad or the guilt or the pleasure or the anything. And so you end it, because to keep going is too hard. Even though you know people who love you will never understand it, never forgive you, and never stop blaming themselves for not figuring out how to stop you from leaving them.
And so all we have left are kittens.