I received word regarding the death of a friend that bordered on acquaintance. I don't want to go into the details, but it shook me deeply. I have only had one other friend pass away and that was in high school, three of my four grandparents are alive.. in general I have somehow been magically or tragically sheltered from the hand of doom. But surely this distance only increases my anxiety for when I heard about his death, I was freaked out. I'm deeply terrified of death and the mention of it in proximity to my life puts such a low low feeling of dread into my heart. I realize, just now, that death is a minefield of cliches because one actually doesn't talk about it nearly enough and when they do they simply repeat the old adages that are unfortunately true. Well, at least given my pathetic socio-cultural position. If there is anything I can add to the discussion is only my constant resentment toward those that feel comfortable with their demise. I can't stand when people giggle when I say I am terrified of death. I feel as though surely I must be missing something for isn't that the great source of dread? Ah language doesn't cover it nearly enough.
My friend's death comes at a time when I have also begun to have renewed fears of mortality again. In my early 20s they haunted me to no end. Daily I would have a panic attack as I contemplated what oblivian could possibly mean. Unlike Kierkegard who said death makes a good dancing partner, dancing is the last thing on my mind. More like cowering and weeping. And Bataille, who used death and sex as this foil for catapulting all things in his existence, well, I am envious of his frantic poetry, but not for me. My little attacks of fear have returned lately. I'm not sure why. Maybe every few days, I have to stop in my tracks and stare into the world with the feeling that everyone is mad, mad, mad as the hills. That they don't particularly understand the tenuous nature of our existence and somehow, through a well honed skillset of forgetting, manage to complete their daily lives. I remember once being completely wiped out on mushrooms in San Francisco. We were driving into the city at sunrise.. I saw the billboards towering over the town and the cars clogging the freeways, the steam pooring out of manholes.. the morning bustle.. and I had this mortified realization that it was they, they, they, that were mad as can be. Ridiculously driving around as though nothing were happening while death and life hovered over this quaking moment. Argh. I used to have this terrifying thought that the reason most animals look terrified is not that life is cruel, but that they lack the ability to forget what lies for them beyond this one.
This sense of dread stays with me. I think of my friend and I almost envy him. In this strange way, he is there. He went there. Like being afraid to jump off the diving board, he went, buchunk, off into the sky and down into the blue fizzy pool. Maybe if I was around it more, this life would make more sense. The lack of death makes its appearance so strange and embarrasing. It's as though I'm walking around Twin Peaks and have forgotten the hideous face of Bob and suddenly he emerges laughing, laughing, laughing and I remember.. I must stay afraid.
I feel I have two options. One: I must spend a significant time before my death researching the most prevaling method for longevity and immortality. There is always a new idea and I will go with the best one. I have always thought freezing yourself, cryogenics, makes sense. I'm game. It may be a money issue, but I hope I can resolve that. Man, if I woke up, and my overweight great great great great grandchildren are gathered around me in the year 2147.. I would love it! I would laugh laugh laugh... This makes complete sense to me. I don't think our mortality is a given, but I do suspect the riddle won't be solved in my lifetime which only makes my feelings of dread worse.
The other option is to really cultivate my growing form of postmodern Budhism. That is, coming to terms with my own lack of subjectivity. It always seems to me that the lack of a subject and Budhism are almost the same thing. However, how to come to terms with such a thing has never sat well with me. There aren't a lot of guide books and the ones that are out there, all want you to sit by while life drains away. Breathing is good, but how good?
Ok that is all. I miss my pal. But it is hard to feel sorry for someone when their gone. It seems like a strange emotion. They are gone. All that is left is us. And soon enough.. we will be gone too.
-march 16, 2006