I think about dying. A lot.
This isn’t something I tell to many people.
Actually, I don’t tell it to anyone.
I don’t obsess but I think about it every day. Always have.
It’s a hard thing to find people to talk to about this. As far as I know, there’s no “Meet Up” to ponder death and if there was, I sure as hell wouldn’t want to go.
I remember being a kid and thinking about it from the perspective of a dog. The bliss in not knowing that there is a finality to it all. Pretty heavy stuff for a kid – not so much for an adult.
When I was a teenager, I had convinced myself that I wasn’t going to make it past my 50s for no other reason than I was lucky that everyone I knew seemed to have been ok until then and that “luck” was bound to end, so it was probably going to be me. (I hope it’s not true now that I get closer and closer every year.) I know – pretty messed up. But it is the truth.
I don’t think about it in the “I want to die” fashion as much as the fact that it’s probably not going to go down very well and if I physically am in pain, I want to at least mentally be in peace.
Nowadays, I think about it because i have kids that I cherish more than anything. I think about what I am leaving them, not in terms of material possession, but in terms of coping skills and memories. It’s a tough load to carry and I am trying to not put that much pressure on myself, particularly as it can often backfire. It’s best to learn to “go with the flow”.
I found the quote in today’s blog post and really liked it because my thinking about dying is more about my thirst for life. It is why I feel excited every time I have a great memory and profound disappointment when things don’t work out. I want so badly to make the most of every moment, though that is an unrealistic endeavor.
I am a middle of the road type of guy and have always been intrigued, and somewhat envious, of those people who are so definitive in knowing what they want to do from a young age (or old age) or steadfast in their politics. As opinionated as I can be, I really do listen and like a good, healthy debate to challenge my thinking and learn.
When it comes to the idea of death, it’s no different. I am attracted to the idea of living life to it’s fullest, following one’s passion, thinking about what matters most and really “living the life you were meant to live”, though I don’t think I will ever be comfortable with the idea of “dancing like no one is watching.” They ARE watching.
On the other hand, there’s a part of me that finds this idea of making every moment count to be somewhat of a first world luxury. The truth is, people have to work, sometimes at jobs they don’t like – that’s why it’s called work. Sometimes we have to manage through relationships that take away from our being the best we can be. Sometimes, passion isn’t enough.
For me, the compromise is to surround myself with people and experiences that are meaningful and joyful, as much as possible. That “as much as possible” can be “never” some days and that’s ok.
I used to always think I didn’t care what people thought of me, but that’s not really accurate. I do care what people think because it helps me find the people I want to be around.
Let me explain. I know I don’t fit the norm of the suburban dad. I don’t coach a sport. I’m probably more involved in child rearing than most but less involved with other things, not to mention the comedy thing. Man, does that throw people off – especially when you’re looked at one dimensionally through a “responsible father” lens. If I had a good 3 point shot or had any interest in “the game”, my life would be much easier to explain – believe me. However, I do care that people think that I am ok with the choices I make – because I really am. In doing so, I have been surrounded with so many great and interesting people that I would otherwise never had had the opportunity to meet, let alone get to know.
During the winter break, I was playing the game Sorry with my kids. It was cool because it was the same game I remember playing with my sister when I was their age. I even remember that the card with the cracked bend in it was a “7”; you know, the card you can split between two men. Anyway, at some point, the kids were just cracking up on the floor as we were playing it and the moment just sort of stood still. It really did – just for a second and I had this incredible vivid thought “if I die tomorrow, I know everything will be ok.” I really felt it.
To me that’s why I think about dying – because I have no idea if this it or not, regardless of what I want to believe. I don’t know if there is any purpose and I sure as hell don’t know why I am here at this time in this place under these circumstances. I do know that life is futile and that it really is a gift if you can find those things that make it like a great vacation – some of it will not be great – the flight, the annoying couple with the matching shirts, the crying baby – but some of it will be great – the sun, waking up without an alarm clock, that one photo where you look 10 years younger. To me, that’s sort of what it’s all about. Anything more is just gravy.
Until next time,