It feels like I can’t keep up with my own thoughts.
I’m not afraid of death, for myself. I’m afraid of how my death will affect the people I care for. But, to be honest, I’m just so curious to see what happens after this that it seems to blot out any fear. To finally know the unknowable. To see what mortal eyes can’t. I don’t mean to be morbid. I am certainly not expressing a desire to die. In fact, I enjoy living now more than I ever have. But I spend more time considering what death will bring than I think is “normal.” Then again, I don’t really believe in normal.
I had a quote, scribbled out in black magic marker, stitched together with masking tape, adhered to my wall over my bed as a teenager: “The more a man learns, the more he realizes how little he knows.”
This has been my life experience, thus far. The more I learn, see, feel, the less I feel able to state as irrefutable, concrete, objective fact.
No, I am not afraid of death. What I am afraid of, I’ve come to see of late, is leaving this world with no record of my true thoughts, desires, feelings, experiences. I feel an urgent need to document who I am, and the way I experience this life. My perspective. Because that’s really the only unique thing I have to offer. I am human. I need to breathe, to eat, to sleep. I need to feel connected. I need all of the things everyone else does. But the way that I see, that is mine alone.
I can’t stand the thought of leaving without telling you who I really am, even if nobody’s actually listening. Like the letter you wrote but never delivered. It still served its purpose for you. And so, I must write. I spend all day attempting to explain to the air around me my opinions, theories, beliefs. I’ve come to use that last word very carefully. Belief.
“Belief, as I use the word here, is the insistence that the truth is what one would ‘lief’ or wish it to be. The believer will open his mind to the truth on condition that it fits in with his preconceived ideas and wishes. Faith, on the other hand, is an unreserved opening of the mind to the truth, whatever it may turn out to be. Faith has no preconceptions; it is a plunge into the unknown. Belief clings, but faith lets go.” -Alan W. Watts
Those things I try the hardest to hold on to, to control, to define, are repeatedly turning out to be those things keeping me in the dark, diluted, biased, resistant, angry, miserable. As Julia Cameron put it, “Nothing dies harder than a bad idea.” My life lately has been a journey of detangling my real self from my ego, the part of me stubbornly holding onto bad ideas, justification, fallacy.
I had a therapy session recently that brought me to the image of a game of tug-of-war. I described my compulsion to take on others burdens, to shoulder their shame, take responsibility for their actions. It creates a constant tension, constant battle, an endless effort to control the outcome of what was never mine.
Connie (therapist, friend, mother of my friend, artist, art teacher, creative healer extraordinaire) simply asked me, “And how do you end a game of tug-of-war?”
Without hesitation, I responded, “Someone lets go.”
I am letting go. And it is horrifying. I am letting go and it is liberating. It is a fit of laughter followed by uncontrollable tears. It is overwhelming dread as I read the news, and overwhelming gratitude as I consider sunshine through leaves.
It is impossible to properly explain.