A month ago, I got news from Hong Kong that one of my aunts just got baptized. She was in her mid-70s, so I found it a bit surprising. Why did she not pick up a religion when she was young? What was she doing it for now?
Last week, when I was waiting for a bus home, I met an old gentleman at the stop and started a casual little chat. I mentioned about my aunt being baptized at such an old age. He said, “Well, you don’t get an afterlife unless you have a religion.” He seemed to be a well-educated man. While I was trying to figure out what he meant, his bus came and we parted.
On my way home through the mall, I walked by a lottery booth. It displayed a big sign “20 Million Dollar Jackpot This Friday”. There was a line buying tickets. Out of curiosity, I bought a ticket for $2.
That night I when looked at the ticket, wonderful thoughts came to me. What if I win? What do I do with 20 million bucks? I could buy a big house, a fast car, a beautiful yacht and even perhaps a private jet. In short, I should have no problem finishing up everything on my bucket list. How wonderful, if I win!
Even though I knew I had a virtually zero chance of winning with that ticket, yet I felt so happy fantasizing about a fortune just because there was a chance, however minute.
Then came the draw on Friday night, and of course my ticket did not win. By Saturday morning, life had already returned to normal, the fantasies all disappeared but I still remembered the happy feeling I had holding that lottery ticket for the past several days like in a sweet dream. In the end, it was just false hope but I got three happy days for $2. On looking back, even though I knew full well that it was just about impossible for me to win and yet I could not control the warm feeling of fantasizing about “financial freedom” every minute before the draw. I may be fooling myself, but it was worth it.
And then I remembered what the man said at the bus stop.
Although I do not believe in afterlife, what if there is really one? My science professor said nothing could be absolutely certain. That is why we do science. What appears to be impossible now may become possible in the future someday. So just in case there is really an afterlife, imagine how wonderful it would be. We will no longer have to worry about our health (because we will never die again). That means we will effectively get back our youth and stay in it forever. We can even meet our deceased love ones, our parents, our grandparents and old friends. The list of happiness is endless. Indeed, for older people like myself, just the sheer thought of having an afterlife would bring up a lot of hope and happiness. The pipe dream is exactly like buying a lottery ticket and fantasizing about the riches.
So, after the day I die, if I find out that there is really no afterlife, it would still be OK. I will not be able to come back to complain about it anyway, but I would have already enjoyed a period of happy fantasy for the final years of my life when everything else is gloomy and sad. Happiness is what counts in life.
Now I understand why the idea of an afterlife is more and more appealing as one gets older and older.