Last night, I was sitting with my roommates, talking about our lives in the context of a television show, which happens pretty regularly around our apartment. At first, I think they loved it, but I can tell from their lackluster reaction that it has become white noise like most of the things I do and say around the apartment. But last night, as we were commingling life goals and television talk, I said that you can’t just settle for something in life because you don’t know how long you’re going to live. Eventually that led to me asking What if one of us died tomorrow? Wouldn’t that be a huge plot twist in the show? What if it’s me? to which Ben responded, You can’t die. That would be like killing DJ off in the first season of Full House. It was reassuring because I always considered DJ the most integral of all of Danny Tanner’s daughters.
It’s not the first time by any means that I’ve contemplated my impending death. At six-years-old, I specifically remember going up to my mom and telling her that I was going to die when I was 29, which is super sketchy for a six-year-old to drop in casual conversation. That moment always stuck with me, and it stuck with my mom as well, so we don’t talk about it. And the idea of 29 haunts me every birthday because I know it’s getting closer and closer each year, and as silly as it sounds, I don’t really feel like getting to 29 to find out if my child-in-a-horror-film-esque proclamation was right.
Death has always been a tricky thing in my life because I’ve seen so much of it, so in a way, I never really thought much of it… almost to the fact that I’ve been obsessed with it. Death and Justin are a bit of a roller coaster because when it comes to the topic, I’ve always been a bit up and down on the matter. One of my favorite anecdotes I’ve ever read (about my silverfox mancrush, Anderson Cooper) was that he became so obsessed with journalism and taking in sights that he would take pictures of all the things he had seen throughout his line of work. One day, whilst taking a picture of some dead bodies he had come across, a friend took a picture of him and gave it to him; it was to show him what he had turned into, and from that day on, he has supposedly drawn boundaries for himself. In a way, Anderson and I have that in common. I become infatuated with death and the emotional consequences it can have (i.e. One Tree Hill school shooting) that I sometimes forget how incredibly real death is, and then like clockwork it comes rushing back, and I witness something death-related–and all blog candor and humor aside, it’s not a joke.
So when I woke up this morning, I was weary of even getting out of bed because I had this inclination myself that this is going to be the day that I die. I suppose it could be a lead-in from the conversation that I had last night or maybe that the bed was just really warm and that my subconscious went to a really dark place so that I would stay there, but I really did have a gut feeling that this was going to be my last day on Earth. So naturally, I reset my alarm for two more minutes… and for twenty minutes, I laid in bed, staring at the ceiling, hoping that my intuition was wrong. In essence, it was very Meredith Grey in the bomb episode of me (2.13 “It’s the End of the World,” for those interested). And after resetting my alarm ten times over the course of twenty minutes, I admitted to myself that if this was really going to go down today, and this was my time, I couldn’t really intervene fate when I don’t actually know what the fate is.
On the way to work, while very consciously watching out for other drivers, I thought about what I would want to do–how I would want to act–if this was the end of my road. So I called my mom, who started talking out of the blue about how she was happy that nothing had happened to me since I’ve moved because she has no idea how she’d get to me. Needless to say, when you have the pressing feeling in your gut that a catastrophe is bound to happen, and you’re going to be its victim, the foreshadowing of your mother’s praises don’t help matters… so I told her I loved her, and I got off the phone. By the time I got to work, I had decided on my game plan… just be kind.
I didn’t want to go to a special restaurant for lunch or take the day off (mostly because if I took the day off, then my chances of dying would have exponentially increased). I just wanted to be kind to people because I think that how’s you should want to be remembered: kind. And it was probably the hardest thing that I did today because apparently no one else thought they were going to die today, or at least, they had a different approach to humanity if they did. I didn’t want to tell anyone about my unconfirmed fate because I didn’t want to taint the day, and I didn’t want anyone to respond to it one way or the other, so the only person I told was my sweet, sweet coworker Liz who was mildly concerned and mildly frightened. As for everyone else, I just wanted them to act as is. I made an effort to call people on my breaks today to tell them hi or that I loved them, but it seemed as if everyone was busy or, honestly, just didn’t want to talk. I made an effort to talk to an ex who would only respond in one word answers and quickly reminded me why we probably broke up. Others that I would hold the door for were downright hateful. I thought to myself Wow, you guys are really taking a giant shit on my last day on Earth. The climax built up to the walk to the metro when I nearly got hit by a car who sped through a red light. After I got to the metro, I accidentally backed into an Asian woman who flipped out on me in the middle of the car.
That’s when the take away kind of hit me: you don’t live your last day on Earth (or at least act like it) for the praise of other people; you do it because that’s how you’re supposed to be every day. And for the logically-minded, I apologize for wasting your time with a whole bunch of nonsense revolving around potential death. If I had wanted to be logical, I probably could have spelled out all of the reasons that I wasn’t going to die today (even though, today isn’t really over. I still have to drive to class and back). However, and I may be stretching it, I don’t think that feeling like I was going to die today was really the end-all-be-all lesson that came from my experience. People can be kind of cruel without even thinking about it, and it’s even easier to notice when you honestly believe that it may be the last time that you’ll ever see them again… even if it is just the door people at your office. But as crazy as it sounds, I really did believe when I opened up my eyes this morning that there was a good possibility it could be my last; it’s a numb pain that’s been with me all day. And as logic would have it, this will ultimately probably not be my last day, but it’s a good reminder anyways because any day that you take out one minute, just sixty seconds, to remember how very fragile life can be… well… I would consider that a day well spent.