Sometimes there are voices in my head impelling me to quit writing immediately after starting.
Fuck that shit man, the voice says as it scrolls through the sinusoidal curves ploughing over the muck of ideas continuously born and passed away. This is all absolute bullshit. You could do better, if you happened to be someone else.
Fine, I say, so let me do poorly as I may do.
This doesn’t happen often. Mostly when I’m tired. Sometimes when I’m sad. Often when I’m happy. Every time when I wonder why I even bother existing.
Fine, so it happens often enough, I say. What’s your point?
I do stop every so often and ponder that last question, that of existence and why it is I was picked at random or chosen or left to my own capabilities. This question is part of the human condition, I suppose, unavoidable from the first dead pet to the last dying breath. It’s why we tend to swipe through Facebook feeds and click YouTube videos, why we watch TV or take our minds off things for a while. These devices and platforms let us see a record of our humanity and all the little effects it may or may not have. Our questions of existence give way to making it until the last second of the video when the click ticks down and the status bar reminds that the next video will be coming in three two one.
More importantly, these distractions allow us to avoid the question altogether. In quick succession, back-to-back-to-back, they make us believe the question may be farcical, a laugh, one not as important as what we see. We feel what we see because what we see is real, not the other feeling we supplanted.
Some of us avoid the question as if it was an uncovered sneeze, holding our breath and waiting it out until the question floats by. We avert eye contact from our own mortality, our own existence, like a passer-by once known whom we wish to forcefully forget. There’s no desire to look into the mystery box and wonder why we were chosen to be able to frame something as simple as existence as being a fucking mystery box.
It’s all exciting and beautiful and sad and happy and devastating, life is, but the question remains: why does it happen? Why are we the ones who can get sad from looking at a bag of peanuts because they remind us of that time decades back that we saw our now-dead grandpa cracking shells, eating the nuts and throwing the shells toward a white, bitey, curly-haired dog on the porch some humid summer night? Why are we the ones who laugh at the trumpeting of our own assholes? Why are we the ones who have to determine our greater meaning and then tell people what that meaning is or what it may be at a cocktail party and wait to hear about the meaning they’ve determined, knowing that one of us is likely lying?
Why can’t the dogs be the ones left to ask, “So, what do you do?”
Those of us who believe we have come to terms with death – our own dying or the death of those we love – tend to take an extra long look at the question sometimes. I sure do. I see it in my face when I look oblong at my own reflection, wondering who will find me post-mortem or how I’ll be discussed. Will it be pleasant, in a way? Will it be nightmarish? Who will trim my beard before I’m squeezed out supine into a wooden box?
Some have committed to committing suicide and look at the question to wonder if now is the time and how and what will you tell your family about it all, how you can sum up the dark feelings of dread and cowardice and longing in one page of a letter. They, more than I, fret about the question of being found and the perception and the talk, often wondering what it will all feel like, wishing for Nothing. Will they write a happy note that reminds family that they loved them and its not the family’s fault, per se, but just the heaviness of life just sort of built up and couldn’t be relieved in any other proper way? Or will it be an honest note, one where you simply tell them it was best to end things before you got too far behind.
Some of us know, in our heart of hearts, it will be a disease that takes us. We look at the clock and see it tick toward twelve and see our own ending’s reflection in the face’s glass. It’s enlivening, in a special way, because in a way it tells us that time is finite. In another way, it’s death’s howl in the distance letting us know it’s drawing closer. The time will come, both slowly and surely. We don’t know when and don’t really want to know but sense that both growth and death that will come from the illness, coalescing and colliding in an ultimate swoon.
Many consider living forever. Peter Thiel hacks away at a way to extend his life by 20 to 30 years, wondering if he can perhaps look just as good later as he does now. Aubrey de Gray doesn’t believe death should be assumed. Others freeze themselves in the hopes that one day they’ll reanimate and reassume their identity. A grave assumption, in my view, but hopeful in a certain sense, namely hopeful that when the method of unfreezing is found, someone will give a damn enough to thaw them out.
I’m frankly happy this is a problem we have. This weight, this boulder upon the back seems like it will gain gravity and come smashing down upon its carrier. But I consider it a form of resistance training. We become stronger with each step, with each look in death’s eye. We thrive.
The question comes to pass and the page is full and I’ve done as poorly as I could possibly do. Next time I’ll be a different person and do better.