I just watched 50/50 and there’s that scene near the end…where he wanders through the streets, the night before his surgery:
how do you fall asleep, knowing that tomorrow you’re going into a procedure where there’s a very real possibility that you might not wake up?
That scene where the anesthesiologist or nurse or whatever puts anesthesia into his IV and he starts to panic, because he doesn’t know if the anesthesia is strong enough to keep him asleep during surgery…or if its too strong that it might just guarantee that he not even wake up after the surgery. I guess that’s why anesthesiologists are so important? I’ve always thought that anesthesiologists were just people who administer anesthesia—and yes, that’s the “no-frills”, non-sugar-coated, heuristic job description…but hey, if they fuck up, they could kill you. I can only hope that the extensive training that anesthesiologists are put through minimize any possibility of incident. The panic in that scene was absolutely palpable.
But I digress.
I’m very lucky that so far, in my entire life, the most “dangerous” medical procedure I’ve had to endure was wisdom teeth removal. I know that there are others who are not so lucky.
Dying, death, the idea of it, its process, what happens afterwards…is something that is constantly on my mind. I don’t know why…or maybe I do?
I don’t know where my obsession or fear of death comes from, but my earliest memory of every being worried about death was when I was probably around 5 or 6 years old. I don’t know what had brought it up, but I think I might’ve had a dream or something—but I do remember that I immediately ran out into the living room where my mom was sitting while watching TV and I remember crying into her lap…telling her that I didn’t want her to die. She reassured me that she wasn’t going anywhere and I don’t exactly remember my reaction to what she said.
During high school I had this time, during winter break I think, where all I thought about was death or dying. At that time, I wasn’t so much worried about it as much as I was just insanely curious about what happens to you after it. Do you just go to sleep and wake up? And when you do, where do you wake up? In a place above the clouds? On a higher plane of existence? What if all life did was to prepare you for this place that laid after, beyond the horizons of death where you existed forever?
You guys know that animal crossing tragedy video? I remember watching it at home (this was like 2 or 3 years ago) and afterwards I had to immediately run out, hug my mom and tell her that I love her. I was crying and I could only tell her that I, with all of my heart, didn’t want her to die.
What do you do knowing that you could be dead tomorrow? Would anyone sleep? I think sleeping would be one of the last things on my mind…but I don’t want to think about it…but at the same time I want to think about it. When something is scary, or when I am fearful of something…I find that I just can’t turn myself away from it—not until the source of the fear or unsettlement is eliminated or solved. For example—and I’ve said this to many people—when I am getting a shot, it hurts, and seeing that impossibly thin cylindrical metal (tube? I guess, lets go with tube) tube be inserted and penetrating my skin, disappearing as it is slowly pushed in…and knowing that foreign substance is being pushed into my body is unnerving, but I can’t help but LOOK. What if I were to turn away? Then I wouldn’t know what is happening to me, and the fear of the unknown is greater than the fear of being disgusted or the fear of pain. I’ll get back to this fear of the unknown later.
But what do you do, when you’re teeter-tottering on the edge between life and death? When I think of death, the visual metaphor that I almost, always have—and I honestly don’t know where or how or why or when I developed this, but—is that I’m at the edge of a cliff or an infinite chasm, I’m standing right on the absolute edge of it so that in order to maintain my balance on the edge, my feet are partially off the edge and my toes are pointed diagonally downwards into the chasm…and one little tilt or nudge or if I shifted my weight a little bit or if I reangle my body a tiny bit…that it would involve me falling right off. And I look down and I only see black. I can’t know what lies beyond that deep black crevice.
Death is so puzzling to me, and I can’t help but think that my attitude and fear towards it has a lot to do with my perception and outlook on life.
I don’t believe in fate.
I don’t like nor do I subscribe to the idea that I am not in control of my life. Everything I do, given my circumstances, is a result of my own actions (and perhaps a bit of random chance/luck). If I succeed, if I fail—I really take care to never blame someone else except for myself (unless, of course, it’s blatantly obvious that I was sabotaged or assisted in some crucial way or something, but usually that doesn’t happen). I don’t like the idea that there’s someone out there controlling my life. But maybe it would be easier to live life if I had believed in fate, which I may, or a deeper level, perceive to be some sort of abstraction of the lack of control we sometimes have over our lives.
I think that fundamentally, my rejection of fate or destiny is where I derive a good portion of my fear of death. Other people, more mature, pragmatic, thoughtful people…have already accepted the fact that they are going to die. And I really do think that a lot of these people are, on a behavioral or personal level, much more mature than me.
Death—its inevitability, its uncontrollable nature—the concept of it completely flies in the face of my values of self-determination. I don’t want to die, but I will, eventually. And there’s absolutely. Nothing. That I can do about it.
But I think death wouldn’t be so bad to me if I could just be (re)assured that there’s something that lies beyond it. If I could just be guaranteed that I’ll still be able to exist after I die, that I won’t just fade into oblivion.
I like just living.
I like being.
Does that make sense? I mean not grammatically (cause I’m sure it probably doesn’t), but just BEING. Existing. Being aware of myself and the people and world around me. I like being aware of my own existence and the existence of others. Why? I don’t know. Living, being, existing is all I’ve ever known. It’s all I’ve done for the past my whole life. Perhaps you can question the quality of my existence, whether I’ve lived fully, but you cannot question the act. I’ve existed for the past 21 years of my life and I can’t imagine not existing. The thought of dying and then potentially not existing afterwards is what truly frightens me.
Do you see how I said “potentially not existing”? Reflexively, innately, I cling (or perhaps I have trained myself to cling?) onto the hope and thought that there’s something after death.
But the idea of an afterlife and the lack of proof…there’s this continual push and pull between the logical side of me for the necessity of concrete proof of an afterlife if I am to believe in it…and the spiritual side of me that wants to just accept it.
I don’t know.
Maybe I’m so hung up on dying because I haven’t lived everyday of my life to its absolute fullest. I haven’t been able to do all the things I want to (although if I phrase it this way, I might never be satisfied with my life, cause I doubt I’ll be able to do all the things that I absolutely want to do).
You know that scene in the movie where Adam’s sitting in the car and he’s talking to Katherine on the phone and he says:
I just want it to be over. I’m so fucking tired of being sick. You know if this surgery doesn’t work, it’s um…that’s it. And I’ve never, you know, I’ve never been to fucking Canada. I’ve never told a girl I loved her. It sounds stupid, doesn’t it?
I’ve never been to fucking Canada nor have I ever told a girl I loved her either.
I don’t know.
50/50 is a great movie though. Joseph Gordon Levitt’s performance was phenomenal. And Seth Rogan played his role well too. He was Seth Rogan without being TOO Seth Rogan, if you can understand what I mean. I’m very lucky to be able to experience two movies with phenomenal acting back-to-back (A Separation and 50/50) yesterday.
But more importantly, while I was typing all of this, I realized that I had missed the morning review session for my Monday midterm. Guess I gotta do more work now. Piece of shit.