There’s this message board I’ve been going to for years, and they’ve got this obituaries thread. People post when an author or actor or some other celebrity has died. Of course, I have this whole death avoidance problem where I try to pretend that death doesn’t exist and we all just live forever, yet I can’t stay away from the thread. I’m always sneaking in there, freaking myself out. It doesn’t matter if the person who has died is 30 or 90. It hits me either way. I’m going to die! Fuck!
Really, every time I see a new post in that thread, I should click over to the Literature and Language thread instead and distract myself with books. But I don’t. I think about my own mortality and have a tiny anxiety attack and wonder about my life. Every single time.
What am I doing with my life? What should I be doing with my life? Should I be devoting my life to the betterment of the world for those who come after? Should I be saying fuck all that, this is the only life I have, and going where my heart tells me? What? I don’t know.
When I was younger, I was told, every day, that our lives were for the glory of God and every choice we make should be based on that. Makes life choices easy, really. But it didn’t give me much useful experience that I can use now. It also didn’t give me much experience getting comfortable with the idea that death was looming for me, since I was always told the rapture was any day now and we all would be whisked away. I was always looking ahead to the next milestone and hoping I would get there. I’d like to graduate from high school before the rapture comes. I’d like to start college before the rapture comes. Hey, maybe I could even graduate from college before the rapture comes! I think I started to stray a bit from the living my life for the glory of God party line when I started thinking, I really hope I have sex before the rapture comes.
I was much more selfless when I was younger. I seriously considered joining the Peace Corps. Later, I was convinced I would be a journalist, reporting on wars and turmoil around the world. And years before all that, I thought I might be a missionary, spreading the message of God’s love. In every case, I was ready for the dirt and the bugs and the sleeping in tents and eating inrecognizable food.
And now? I want to be happy, I guess. Do all the living I can. Whatever happened to just wanting to make everyone else happy? What happened to my desire to make the world better? When did I decide I didn’t want to sleep in dirt after all?
I was just invited to a gathering to remember someone who recently died. I never met him, but even so, it’s probably best I can’t attend. I don’t think I could take that much thinking about life cut short.
I no longer have this clear sense of where life is heading that I had when I was young. I’m not looking ahead to milestones that I hope I get to before life is taken away from me. I have no idea what’s next. I’ve learned that even with careful planning and clear goals, life is a journey with unexpected turns you have no way to predict. And some of them surprise you in the most joyous of ways. And some days are hard. And I wouldn’t miss any of it. And I guess since the time we have is finite, I don’t want to waste any of it. And maybe all my mini panic attacks are because I worry that sometimes I do.