At the Fair, children always ask for a ride on the merry-go-round. Babies don’t. On the merry-go-round which is life, no one asks for a ride but everyone is given a ticket. Like it or not, we just find ourselves on it, discovering later that – once again, like it or not – our too brief ride will end. We had no choice about being born and we have no choice about sooner or later snuffing it.
We try hard to find sense in all this. Believers, non-atheists, have the illusion that they have found life’s ultimate meaning in what they call the after-life. But there is no second ride; we get off and new riders get on – we die, and there’s no getting back on. Believers, of course, have invented resurrections, notably that which Jesus, they say, worked for Himself, after pulling off the trick for one of His mates, Lazarus, who, however, presumably died a second time. Dying once is cruel enough.
Some unlucky individuals have such a miserable life that they wish they had never been born. Most of us are glad we were, and would even be happy to live forever (so long as it didn’t get too boring), so much so that many convince themselves that they will, after the unfortunately inevitable “rite of passage” which is death. The privileged, enlightened ones are those who make the most of their lives and accept the fact that they are given only one ticket to ride.