Welp, there's two schools o'thought:
On the one hand you've got the Bible (and, just to be fair, the Koran -- the moderate Koran, of course -- and the...whatever the Jews have and the Orientals). All these, if you sort of do a Reader's Digest version, tell pretty much the same story:
Somewhere back there, our ancestors must've done something pretty godawful, pissed off Somebody Big. And they stuck us in these bodies and made us jump around like salmon in a bear documentary and get ugly and die with all those tubes and beepers.
"What's it like? Pain. Every minute."
That's version number one. Then there's the scientists, Darwin -- which is just a theory, not a fact, but the theory is something like:
We're just like cars, in a demolition derby, and we're cheap models, like a Yugo, because we're designed for Africa about a million years ago, where a hyena was likely to get us any day, so why bother making us like, say a Mercedes Benz or even a good American car -- say, a Saturn! Anyway, that's the idea: we're not made to last, and that's just how it is.
The interesting difference between these two explanations is that one, the God version, makes you feel guilty whereas two, the Science version, just scares you to death. So the best way is to do a little of the God version, till you feel TOO guilty, and then try the Science version till you get too scared, and keep going back and forth till you can go to bed.
At which point: vodka. Nothing beats it, not even the Diaza-whatever the HMO gave you. God starts lecturing you like some big bearded dragqueen version of your ex-wife? Two words: vod. ka. Not bourbon, Scotch-nothing colored. Pure clear vodka.
"But it's bad for you." Which is kind of funny, at this point. Point the bottle at your cardiologist and your ex-wife and, fuck it, God and the Scientists too, and tell them, tell them...fuck it.
Just as long as there's no after. No white light, no robed figures, nothing. Like flicking off the TV. That's something to hope for.
(This article was first published in The eXile in November, 2002.)