While dragons and unicorns and other fictional characters are impressive to the imagination it is much more profound to find oneself in shock and awe of strange beasts such as a rhinoceros or giraffe, creatures that are indeed real but look as though they should be products of an overactive imagination. In other words, it is the reality of our world, our universe that is the most interesting, unbelievable story for the inherent fact that it is true for no reason at all, making it all the more spectacular… These are incredibly complex organisms that have been crafted, molded ever so slowly for millions and millions of years. They are a conscious manifestation of what a cold, dark and desolate quite literally infinite amount of time and space is capable of.
-why do we care about ourselves and others even though we know we will die and forever cease to exist?
Evolution by natural selection. Our ancestors that didn’t care about themselves didn’t survive to reproduce as often as the ones that did. Thus, we inherited the genes that code for the desire to survive, the desire to have a meaningful impact and to not be wasteful (of resources or of one’s life), the desire to be loved and accepted by the tribe, on and on it goes. You’re wired to care about yourself and what people think of you. You’re wired to desire to beat death, and if you can’t literally beat death, you’ll try to create a way that you can.
I’d go further to say that this paradox (knowledge of death and the futility of your own life) lead to the evolution of religion. Religious belief allowed the conscious mind to resolve this knowledge with emotional and biological imperative. What you feel was created before what you know.