We’re All Going to Die
Most of us several decades from now, but it’s still true
My bed looks like a sunken oatmeal raisin cookie. The mattress and box spring rest on the carpet. According to the memes, I don’t have to worry about Joe Biden’s new tax plan.
Maybe that’s why I woke up several times last night and thought, “Oh damn. I’m just going to keep waking up and going back to sleep until I die.”
That’s it. I’m in my mid-30s. Childhood and young adulthood over. Another decade of dependent parenting and all that’s left is middle age, old age, and then the great beyond. Death with a capital D.
It’s like life is a downhill roll on a snowy cliff off a precipice into an unfathomable chasm, except this time, no snow owl is going to carry us in their talons back to the tree-fort fire.
No, no. We’re all going to die.
And each year you age feels quicker than the last.
That’s not a comforting thought, but when you have it in the imperceptible seconds between sleep in the dead of night, too drained to notice your alertness, beyond the presence of mind to even check the clock, the lack of comfort in such a thought doesn’t matter.
What matters is the truth and the time.
Always truth and time.
And the truth is the truth you know in your bones. You are impermanent. Made to expel some genes to a new vessel so that they can continue for a few before expiring. Your personal joys are as unimportant as meddlesome winds. Your hopes are as delicate as a soft petal asking the world to treasure its splendor once it’s been picked from the stem. The universe is fathoms beyond your grandest concepts of massive, and you are endless orders of inconsequential and overlooked.
And the time is now. With you and your eyes dancing across these words. Your thoughts skipping along the hours behind you and the days ahead. What needs to be done? Have you eaten? Are you working tomorrow? Is there something new on your phone and what did he really mean when he said that a few summers back?
The yogis keep telling me to meditate. This is not new, and there is a way to be at peace with it.
(Just so we’re clear. There are no yogis. By yogis, I mean Dan Harris and other white celebrities, influencers, and thought leaders who’ve ordained this foreign, ancient, practice as essential for their domestic, smart-tech world.)
I breathe in.
Deep and hold it. Try and think of nothing else but the invisible air sliding up my nostrils and filling the microscopic alveoli in my lungs.
(It’s weird that we all have hair in our noses, right? Also, how fun of a word is alveoli? Thank you to the high school anatomy teacher whose name I’ve forgotten.)
And out. Gently bringing focus back to the breath. Forgiving any moment the mind strays. Calmly.
This is okay. Mortality is okay. This is just how it is. No living thing has ever had this existential weight lifted. It is, in effect, existence.
Whether your mattress is a decades-old sorrow or an actual literal cloud, we’re all going to the same —
There’s an energy flowing in me. Throughout me. And I can send it wherever I want to. How much of that energy have I poured into —
— a screen? Errant, aimless thoughts? Punching inconsequential buttons and watching stupid videos while the reaper holds the hourglass and waits.
The breath of life is a rare and special thing.
Lost too soon. Too easily. Set to expire and so delicate it’s served up to inattention a million times before it’s gone.
Again and again and again.
Until we can’t anymore.