I wake up every day looking at Death, and you know what? He ain’t half bad.
—Doc Holliday, Wyatt Earp
Its not until you lose everything that you are free to do anything.
—Tyler Durden, Fight Club
I used to take pride in the fact that I felt like I could die satisfied any day. I was at a place in my life where I couldn’t ask for more, and there was a tremendous sense of overall satisfaction. I had everything that I deserved. After that, all I had left to experience, every fall morning caught or tear shed, was a bonus. Of course, the closest I had ever come to death was a minor case of pneumothorax, which I imagine is as fatal as pinching one’s skin between two Lego pieces while building the Death Star, so this feeling was never actually put to the test. I’m sure I’d feel differently if I ever came frighteningly close to the end of my life, although just how much remains a mystery.
Perhaps this grew from a cogent sense of frailty, perpetuated by all the stories of freak accidents echoed throughout the media. The student who impaled his heart on a number 2 pencil while trying to catch a football in the middle of class. The general who drowned in a pool of his own blood from a nosebleed on his wedding night. Even the president of the United States almost choked to death on a pretzel. To distance myself was the only way I could deal with it.
The problem, I’ve only recently discovered, was that this left me alienated and unattached. I have no dreams, nothing to live for. Not even a goal to work towards. During high-school, the goal was to get into a university. After university, the goal was to get a fulfilling job. After the job was the house. Now that I own a house, it feels like the rest of my life has been laid out in front of me. No risks, no surprises. I appreciate everything that I’ve been given, but it feels like it’s been a little too easy. Even my most significant goal was rather suddenly accomplished this year. As Logan Pearsall Smith once wrote in his book Afterthoughts, “How many of our daydreams would darken into nightmares if there seemed any danger of their coming true!”. A simultaneous fulfillment and dissatisfaction.
I presented this problem to Pat, and from his infinite wisdom (at 24, no less) I realized that one should never live for what might happen. Otherwise, a person would go crazy. Of course, to truly live this way, it doesn’t hurt to be a bit of a fatalist. Having this belief means that one can only do the best that they can, and to go means that it was meant to be.
For now, I’ve been keeping myself occupied, until I can figure out what I want in the last rest of my life. Blessed is the person who is too busy to worry in the daytime and too sleepy to worry at night. It’s only now that I’ve discovered that I need a few dreams to survive.
And I can only hope to never reach them.