Today, I was incredibly blessed to have a conversation with an incredible young woman. While, for many reasons, I will not be sharing the content of that conversation, it made me think a lot about myself and what I am afraid of.
I am afraid of many things. I am afraid of preying mantises, of thunder, of injections, of accidentally running over a hedgehog. I am afraid of running out of money, of failing at my chosen career, of throwing up in public, and of my teeth falling out.
But mostly? Mostly, I'm scared of dying.
I'm scared of everything about dying. I'm scared because it is an utterly incomprehensible concept and yet it's something that one day, I will do. And I won't get to choose when, or where, or how, or who with. It is the thing I have the least control over, in every way. I'm scared because I don't know what it will feel like, or what will happen next. Will everything just go blank, forever? Will I go somewhere else? Will I even know I'm dead? Is there even a world, without me in it? I just don't understand. It makes me completely and utterly panicky. Sometimes I try to believe in reincarnation, simply to try and reduce my panic. But I don't. I can't.
But there's more than that. Will I be missed? Will I be remembered? Will I matter, when I'm gone? Will the ones I love continue to love me? Will I continue to love them?
The difficult thing about being relatively intelligent is that one develops little tolerance to failing to understand something.
Anyway. Following this conversation, I've been reflecting a lot on this fear. I am aware there is no 'point' in fearing death: it's as pointless as fearing the sunrise, or Glee being cancelled. It will happen, it is inevitable. It simply is. But when I think about it, fearing death makes life a true gift. What better reason to live and love life is there than knowing that one day, at a time and place of nobody's choosing, it will end? I don't want to die with a cent unspent, a word unspoken, a promise unkept, a kiss withheld. And, given that I may die at any moment, I will speak my words, and spend my cents, and keep my promises, and give my kisses freely. And then: what is there to fear? I'll have lived as much as I can, every moment, so when I die, nothing will have been lost.
If you're reading this: you are real. You are precious. You are alive, for nobody knows how long. Make it count, in whichever way will leave you with the least regret. Sleep in, if that will bring you peace. Get up early, if that's what will bring you joy. Lord knows, you may get another go once your time in this world is done.. but what if you don't?