In a world that largely believes in some form of an afterlife, be it as an apparition contactable by psychics on demand, a soul waiting for its resurrection at the End of Times, or a candidate for imminent reincarnation on earth, I belong to that pitifully small (and pitied) minority who believes that there is nothing on the other side. That death is a full stop. You cannot separate the fear of dying from any argument about life after death. The will to survive is universal but only we, self-aware humans, can conjure up in our imagination a time when we will be no more. And the thought is terrifying. Anything is better than that! Given the choice between the certainty of fear and the delusion of hope why not pick the latter? The strongest argument for a belief in an afterlife is that it is harmless. Once you’re dead you are sure to find out or else there won’t be a ‘you’ to find out otherwise. So, why do I not grasp at this convenient palliative? The reason has nothing to do with what happens or doesn’t happen after I die and everything to do with how I live my life while I have it. You see, everything has a price, even hope. A belief in a white-robed Jesus welcoming me with open arms, or a belief in some rearrangement of my molecules to form another human being not unlike me is a sedative. It makes the dread of extinction seem more bearable. But in doing so it devalues the uniqueness of this life. By believing that death is not an end, only a transition, we cast all that precedes it as an overture, a preparatory phase for something else, or as merely a chapter in a long saga, not as the unique, never-to-be-replicated thing it truly is. I am not saying that believers are more cavalier with their lives (excluding suicide bombers and other psychopaths). Believing that death is not final does not necessarily make life less precious. But holding the opposite view, that there is nothing beyond, makes living every moment that much more intense. The awareness that I am irrevocably dying with every breath I take, moving inexorably towards complete oblivion makes every passing moment a once-only experience. Things end. Stars die. Sure, their stuff survives, but they, as they were, are gone for good. We don’t concoct a myth of survival for the sun after it will go out in a few billion years. We accept the darkness that will follow as a fact. As I float on my back in the middle of a pristine lake, the sun rays warming my belly, the experience, no -- the bliss, are that much intensified by the realization that we are both dying, the sun and I, albeit at different rates, and that this specific moment happens only once. The black nothingness that looms at the end of our respective lives has no bearing on the magnificence of the experience. There is no need to make up stories about another life to come.