On Death

I have been thinking about Death and my own mortality a lot lately. Truth be told, I do think about my own mortality a lot and whilst it goes through waves of importance, or let’s say it being at the forefront in my mind, the last two, three months it has been at the forefront again. More recently, two deaths have really brought it back home again. Earlier, a friend of mine, Gary Warnett died unexpectedly, and today the news of Tom Petty’s death arrived.

To begin, early on in my 20’s I never gave dying a thought. To clarify, I am an Atheist and do not believe in any sort of after life or resurrection – even more interestingly my son does, he recently told me that he figured that once a human dies they get immediately ressurected, to maintain a circle of life so he argued. Just an interesting side note of the daily input of information you get from an 8 year old.
 I travelled a lot by plane in my 20s and had crippling flight fright. The smallest turbulence and I would spend hours imagining my own brutal, painful demise in a ball of fire. It got so bad that towards my end of the 20s when I had work meetings in Europe, I would rather drive a full 12 hours than get into a plane.
Cue to the ever so spoken change of perception when my son was born – to many script writers disappointment it wasn’t an immediate change of heart, but one that took a good five years. Actually, the more I think about it, the first five years of his life I was even more afraid of dying due to a sense of un-accomplishment and responsibility for his life and well-being. That changed, gradually to a point a few years back when I now sleep through thunderstorms in planes. I can’t quite explain it but for a good few years now I was ok with dying. I figured that in the almost 40 years I have been on this planet I had experienced so much, laid down roots, left a positive impact on my world that would survive me that if I die I wouldn’t have any regrets. Possibly, a coping mechanism I forced upon myself to deal with the fright of flying as well as my constant companion of self-doubt and lack of love on my life, but it was undeniably there and frankly, it felt pretty good.
Recently, that has changed again and I don’t know why, more importantly, it is really making my head scratch and leaving me pretty restless. Without wanting to sound spiritual, and that my friends I am not, I can feel death coming, on some days. Or rather, I can feel my own physical fragility having an impact on my psyche. Physically, I am far from good, a year of not being able to exercise combined with a truck load of stress have left their mark. I know full-well what needs to be done to get that elephant out of the room yet equally feel utterly exhausted to even begin thinking about it.
I am worried about dying these days. The older I get the faster time feels and the less accomplishments I feel get done. There is the possibility that I yet again have taken on too much for me too handle, professionally and personally – something I am sadly very good at or I have again, staked my claims too high, I’ll give you that. My usual solution of micro-managing everything and to work through the funk as an old friend once called it, is only having so much success these days. Again, it’s an odd feeling waking up in aches and pains with a troubled mind at 6am wondering how much time I have left to make sure everything I set out to do is done right, without losing my own self in the process. When you are trying to save the world, and without an ounce of megalomanical thought, I have always felt that my purpose in my life was to create and leave a long lasting positive social impact, your shoulder aches get increasingly too much to bear.
When I got the news that Gary had passed, it devastated me. For one, I lost a friend that I would never able to speak to again. Secondly, it scared and scares the shit out of me, he was my age, just gone. I felt my own sense of impending passing solidified for a good few days. Again, I believe that to be normal psychological reaction when confronted with utmost finality of our existence. In regards to Tom Petty, I didn’t know him, but I cherished his music and words, they played and will continue to play a significant role in my life but his death symbolized something else to me – over the past two years it feels as if a large part of the artists that have shaped me since childhood have died. In a larger sense I feel as if the entire mental construct of my world as it was built by them is done, it’s over, it is being replaced and with that my time has come. It’s a terrible feeling, one I truly don’t like holding on to but I can’t shake the fact that with 40 around the corner, well, we had our run and this new world order is so incredibly alien to me. It is not even positively so that I do often wonder what the point is of carrying on. It feels as if my intents and vision of the world belong to a generation past, and whose ideologies are no longer relevant or in demand. When I question the point of it, I am not talking about suicide here, far from it, but rather of leaving. Other than raising my son, I feel as if what I do just resembles the last throws of a better dying world. It’s sad and the passing of all of these artists signify that. On the other hand, it is very clear to me that raising my son is the ultimate good anyone can do. There is that and it is fully understood to be a great reason to carry on.
This isn’t a case of pessimism vs. optimism either – I am often both and quite cold and analytical about these things, whilst unhinged emotional inner outbursts exist, I tend to cherish those by myself.  This isn’t about some motivational meme solution to a complex thought process either. Life is brutal, cold and short, and the only way through it is to keep on keepin’ on, smile at the bullshit the universe has in stock for you and do the best you can. Whether or not it will survive you is almost irrelevant today. Death is on my mind, it’s not freaking me out just yet but I am starting to feel rushed. Possibly, this could be a kick in the ass that is needed, to what purpose I am yet to figure out, but finding a purpose to life is not something I signed up for in the first place.

 

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