How do we live, knowing what’s to come?
I’m not sure what’s prompted me to write this. I never have been, and don’t want to be a downer. Someone who comes across as depressing and dismal. Many people perceive me to be a badass and that’s fine with me. But every now and then, I find myself mired in darkness, thick as treacle, but without the sweetness.
Maybe it’s the cold, gray Chicago day. Or the time of year with its impending holiday cheer and uber-conspicuous consumption of stuff we don’t need: Black Friday! Cyber Monday! Take it Up the Rear Tuesday!
Perhaps the catalysts for my murky ruminations, especially of late, are the constant, niggling reminders of my own mortality. Doctor visits. Tests. Generalized aches and pains that come and go. Just when I think they’re gone, they come back like junk mail.
When I was younger, “death and dying” wasn’t a topic to be dwelled on. I was fairly reckless in the way I lived my life, the way many people were “back then.” Partying was the norm. Drinking, experimental drug use, etc.
I was lucky, blessed really, that I hadn’t experienced any significant health issues. Oh, I had a benign tumor removed from my breast when I was twenty-one, but other than the yanking of my tonsils when I was five, I sailed through life unencumbered by the fears that would grip me, many years later.
As the years passed, and I saw several close relatives endure the ravages of cancer, and then drop dead, I finally had to face the fact that my time was finite. As is everyone’s. Along with this came the realization that my particular gene pool, sucked.
When both my parents died from Stage 4 lung cancer nearly five years ago, while I was being treated for breast cancer, the Truth came home to roost. And that is, we are all on borrowed time.
Knowing this…that we’re all going to die someday, how is it possible to live a happy life? Or, is that the very reason we must strive to be happy?
I ask this out of genuine curiosity. I’m not here to bum anyone out, but, as I have to be especially vigilant where my health is concerned, I find myself obsessing over matters that never came to mind…before. For someone with OCD, like myself, these dark thoughts dig in and take hold like a hawk that lights on a cute baby bunny, and swoops off to places I’d rather not go.
For those of you who are able to be “mindful,” and meditate and generally achieve a state of calm, how do you do it? What’s your secret, please? Yoga? Chanting? Some new supplement that I haven’t yet come across? (And I’ve tried them all.) I need some help here.
Speaking of yoga, I gave up my beloved cardio for a day and tried that, as well. Once. Bought a handful of DVDs, fired one up and got dizzy after thirty minutes of struggling to hold poses and control my breathing. I’ve found that constant movement works better for me. I can’t sit for long. I always have to be doing something, cleaning something, going somewhere to get something. And on, like that. Yes. It’s exhausting. But, at the very least, all that loco-motion keeps me fit.
So, back to death. As we go about our day to day routine, worrying and fretting over the mundane, with the full knowledge that one day, we’ll simply shut down…what keeps us chugging along? Continually striving to do better, be better, achieve that dream, reach that goal? Make more money?
When you think about it, objectively, it seems stupid to have to die, doesn’t it? What the hell are we here for, anyway?
What the hell is Donald J. Trump here for??
I’m being stupid, I know, asking questions that man has asked since jump street, but I hope to initiate a conversation that will, perhaps, help someone like myself, who could use a light sprinkling of fairy dust. A kiss from a unicorn. Or a good, hard kick in the ass.
Even as I piss and moan over our mortality, I’m still chasing my dreams. I haven’t given up, yet. I wouldn’t know what to do with myself. For me, that’s a dangerous state to be in. And, I don’t stew over myself, only. I worry about my husband, our cats, my sister, her family. Bring it on! I have enough angst for everyone.
My parents eschewed organized religion. My Jewish father and Italian mother were not what I would call, believers, at least while they were still relatively healthy. After their diagnosis of lung cancer, as their own dire fate loomed, that may have shifted. I believe it did for my father. How genuine that shift, or whether it was born out of fear, I can’t say.
Our family celebrated everything, without truly understanding the significance behind holidays like Christmas or Yom Kippur. I won’t deny that we had a hell of a lot of fun, regardless. My mom used to joke that my dad considered himself a good Jew because he ate brisket on Rosh Hashanah. I laughed at that then, and I still do. My folks were a couple of characters.
So, my two siblings and I were brought up without any religious instruction. I consider myself to be a spiritual individual, but I’m not sure what that means. I’d like to believe in something… you know? Something that makes all this other crap make sense. Something that will allow me to be less afraid – and present, in the here and now.
Who wants to waste the time they do have, worrying about the time they ultimately won’t?
What do you think? Should I give yoga another shot? Revisit the book I bought but never read: “Buddhism for Dummies?”
As I ramble on here, it occurs to me that a passage from the wonderful, 1997 film, “Eve’s Bayou,” encapsulates everything I just wrote, yet does it so much better. I haven’t been able to forget it and give the film two thumbs up, if you’re interested.
The character who speaks the following dialogue is named Mozelle. She is a psychic, both blessed and cursed in that she can see the future, which provides her a tidy living amongst her neighbors in the bayou, but in return, every man who falls in love with her, dies.
In a conversation with her young, precocious niece, Mozelle says:
“Life is filled with goodbyes. A million goodbyes. And it hurts every time. Sometimes, I feel like I’ve lost so much, I have to find new things to lose. All I know is, there must be a divine point to it all, and it’s just over my head. When we die, it will all come clear, and we’ll say, ” So that was the damn point.” And sometimes I think there’s no point at all, and that’s the point. All I know is most people’s lives are a great disappointment to them. And no one leaves this earth without feeling terrible pain. And if there is no divine explanation at the end of it all, well, that’s sad.
“No point.” Maybe that will have to do.