As I write this, I am still alive. Obvious, yes. But, I do not want you to falsely believe I bring revelation from the great beyond. I’m not there yet nor do I think I will ever see a hereafter. Death is absence from, not continuation of, life.
I hold many hopes that would be spoiled by an early cremation, built on desires both for myself and for the ones who matter most to me. Death is welcome to keep its distance until the responsibilities I have are as thin as my aged skin will be one day (if all goes well). Death is welcome to stay away until I’ve given more to this world then my sunny disposition, pretty face, and sarcasm.
My current vitality aside, I have learned much from death in the past decade. Three years past thirty, I’ve had the opportunity to brush shoulders with the potential makings of my own end. I mean this not to sound dramatic, for I have not woken in an aseptic smelling room with tubes and needles coming in and out of me. But, I have had one-night-stands with death, more of them than actual one-night-stands. I’ve woken on my back, hot and cold all at once, sweaty, gasping and feeling alive. I’ve rolled over to look around me, feeling crazily exhilarated, wondering what just happened and why. I’ve stood up, brushed myself off, and tried to hide the shame born from stupid actions.
In each of these moments, fistfuls of seconds in which my mind saw the shape of my own death, skull stomped open or corpse sizzling, bleeding out or crushed completely, I have learned things about myself, about what I want from my life and, in equal measure, what I fear from it. I wish that I could say I’ve learned these lessons well, but I am more jackass than sage. I revisit them from time to time, like a favorite poem I can’t be bothered to commit to memory. Lying in my bed at night, my mate millimeters away, I feel their shape, but not their meaning.
“Remember your death come morning,” my tired self says to me, but morning comes with all the complications associated with one’s early thirties. Death is eschewed for life, which involves much bitching and growing aches. I get cunty, grouchy, stressed, achy. I have anxieties for the future, guilt for the past. The present is filled by desire to fix the latter and secure the prior. I am a little hamster, scampering around to cover my shit in wood shavings and fill my cheeks for a later that may never come. It should be noted that my childhood success with rodent pets was limited, filled with accidental poisonings and intestinal blockage. May my end involve merciful than theirs.
I write this not as an extension of rumination (of which I do plenty), but as an exercise in exploration, an exercise in remembering what has past and committing to words the lessons I have learned. I don’t hold many hopes of becoming a better person, but perhaps you will.
I shall not take my experiences in chronological order, for time is less important that weight, and weight is less important than spinning a riveting tale. I shall recount lessons, both small and large: Tips to avoiding death and studies in living life.
My tales take form in five parts:
Part I—Electrifying Fence Work
Part II—Herd Mentality
Part III—An Accidental Arsonist
Part IV—Driving in Cars with Calamity
Part V—My Own Madness
I shall try to toss one essay up on the blog every week or two, as time and mind allows.