I'm driving along on the highway when suddenly I'm struck by visions of my own toes being bent so far back that they break. I'm sitting at my desk at work, and I see myself held hostage, being tortured in any number of gruesome ways. My fingers are being cut off with pruning shears. Or I imagine that I'm in a car accident, my body bent in a position that mangles me beyond recognition.
This is how it's been lately. These scenes come on from nowhere. My body will tense up and feel cold. All I can do is wait for them to pass. It would be easier if I could convince myself that these things aren't likely to happen today, if even at all. How many people ever find themselves kidnapped, tortured, murdered? The problem is that some people do find themselves kidnapped, tortured, murdered, and who among them ever thought it would happen to them? And the idea of my getting into a car wreck is even harder to escape. I believe in improbabilities, but I've always had a problem convincing myself of impossibility. A head full of this stuff is no way for anyone to go about their life, so I try to let those thoughts go.
The other day a friend and I were discussing our funerals. She asked me to read her blog at her funeral. I asked her to prat fall into my open casket, spilling my dead body out onto the church floor. As soon as I'd asked her to do that, it dawned on me that we will not both be able to attend the other's funeral. One of us will not be there to celebrate the other one. All of these things we take for granted. Some things I wish I could take for granted, at least for a little while.
I contemplate my death because something in me wants me to. I do not wallow in these visions, but they come. I touch them and let them go, but for a moment they are very real. I have dreams, too, during which I'm faced with very difficult choices. Last night I was faced with the decision to either kill my entire family or kill someone else very close to me. Moments before I woke up I was staring at the heavy gun in my hand, weighed down by the responsibility of a single decision that couldn't be avoided. What do dreams like this and my thoughts of death have in common? They've brought me into constant contact with the idea of living in the moment, the importance of choices, the meaning (or lackthereof) of everything I do. They force me to contemplate what I think of my own importance, my lack of importance, my impermanence, and how all those things fit together.
It's been said that you are the most important person who has ever lived, and five minutes after you're dead almost nothing you ever did will matter.
What I can say is that the visions have been awful and terrifying. They have also created in me a level of comfort that I haven't known before. Certain things used to cause untold pressure within me--what I might do for a living at any given moment, what I might or might not be accomplishing, what my life looked like compared to what I thought it should look like. These worries seem almost obsolete now. I still feel motivation, but it's coming from a completely different direction. I feel inspired now to make those decisions on a moment-by-moment basis. I feel that it's best if I allow myself to live spontaneously, in tune with the new information being handed to me on an almost constant basis. It feels good to not make any big plans. I plan to take a single step--I don't hold on to where I think that step should take me six months from now. And living that way used to make me worry I was flaky or irresponsible, but I don't feel that way, either. I suppose this is freedom. I almost do not want it.
I can also say that it makes a lot of things seem weird that never seemed all that weird before. Like billboards.
Book Notes - Patrick Nathan "Some Hell"
1 day ago