“Of comfort no man speak.
Let’s talk of graves, of worms and epitaphs;
Make dust our paper and with rainy eyes
Write sorrow on the bosom of the earth.”
Richard II (III.ii.144-7)
My thoughts get darker. I dwell on death, and the more-or-less imminent deaths of those I love. I feel ridiculous, like somehow I postponed that moment in early adolescence where mortality sidles up next to your thoughts, becoming your lifelong companion; it never really mattered much to me before. I’m not afraid of dying, but I am afraid of watching everyone around me die and never feeling any sense of what we are all doing here. I’m afraid of having lost forever any faith in the comforting notions I was raised with, that reincarnation is really only an extension of the first law of thermodynamics, that we’ve all spent eternity dancing together and will, in some way, continue to do so. I grew up believing that I have a soul, that it is immortal and infinite, the unfathomable egoless animating principle of this personality I know as “me”; I have never really given much thought to the possibility of there being only this and then Nothing, Void, Abyss and Oblivion. To die, to sleep, no more.
So why can’t I stop thinking about it now?
I suppose I take things to extremes. Having no guru, does it then follow that I must abandon all former notions of god, of spirit, of something that lasts beyond this life? And what need have we for that beyond beyond, for the faith in something more? What is it in me that has suddenly begun to feel that this isn’t enough?
I am not enjoying life the way I used to. I am not finding it meaningful, or even so exciting and sweet as it was wont to seem before. Is this some flaw in me, some essential lack? Perhaps I need something to worship. Perhaps I need something to love and call my god. Perhaps I just need someone to hold onto so I don’t choke and drown in this thickening mist.
I am told this is normal. I frighten myself with thoughts of my own death, of causing it or simply letting it happen. I feel lost and adrift and then out of nowhere some stranger’s kindness or a beautiful story hits me in the gut and I can almost taste life again. Laughter is soaked into my soul like rain on desert sand– needed, but not enough.
I will get through this.