I just posted this in my own journal, and thought perhaps it would be appropriate in this community as well. It consists of many thoughts that have been rolling around in my head for quite some time but which, until now, I have been too scared to share.
I wish I could forget that I am mortal. I wish I could be a child again, before I understood that death is real. I wish I could still believe that I'm invincible, that life is more than a fragile little thread that could be severed at any moment.
I walk around all day every day with the weight of my own mortality on my mind. Anytime I find myself with an idle moment, from sitting on a subway train to laying in bed before I fall asleep, it hits me and I feel so overwhelmed. When I really let it creep in, I hyperventilate and break out in chills and feel as though my heart is about to stop beating. I have a tremendous, overwhelming physical reaction as my body revolts against the notion of ceasing to exist and my mind cries out, begging not to disappear. I can almost see my neurons firing wildly, desperately, sparks darting about in a panic that leaves me utterly helpless and completely terrified.
Every few days, I feel my heart skip a beat or two, and it makes me panic. My doctor told me it's normal for that to happen sometimes, but I still think I will get it checked out at some point.
When I was in middle school, I cried myself to sleep more nights than not because I first began to grapple with the ida of mortality. Finally, I managed to push the thoughts aside until one night over winter break. I was with my parents, in the backseat of my mom's truck, on the way from a restuarant to the American Legion. I was gazing out the window at the night sky, thinking about nothing in particular, when the reality of death laid hold on my brain with all its force for the first time in years. While my parents sat up front, unaware of what was going on, I felt my whole body absolutely lose its sanity.
When we arrived at the Legion, I was trembling as I stepped out of the truck. But a few minutes later, I slipped into a state of utter contemtment and a sensation of total security that was just as intense as the fear of a few minutes prior, and felt more intense than could be accounted for by parasympathetic endocrine responses alone. I wish I could hold onto that feeling that ultimately, beyond life, everything will be okay.
"You're in your house. It doesn't mean you are your house. House falls down, you get out and walk away."
I admit now, for the first time, that the main reason I love New York City is because I am so surrounded by life all of the time that I have less of a chance to dwell on death. I'm able to live and enjoy and find at least partial respite from my fear.
I still can't escape it. The one benefit I can perceive from the status quo is that I am inclined to be deeply grateful for even the most miniscule joys I encounter.
I do hope. I hope that I will live to a ripe old age, to a point where I feel like my work on earth is more or less complete, and to a point at which I feel reconciled with the idea of leaving. I hope I see a ghost someday, or have an enlightening near-death experience, or that I'm one of the lucky few to have some other similarly reassuring experience. It's not as easy as just saying, "I'm giving myself to Jesus." Those are words. That's so shallow. And even if Jesus is a great, truly Holy and immortal figure, there's more to it than that. I'm inclined to believe that a lot of people who believe they are saved fail to truly grapple with the magnitude of the issues at hand. I am also inclined to believe that many people simply cannot grapple with these issues at all--their minds, through disuse or self abuse, cannot handle such depth of thought.
I recognize that my best bet at achieving inner peace will come from within, and my journey will reflect that. My greatest connection to the world is through myself, and if I'm to discover God in whatever form He may be (even if that simply ends up being the discovery of peace in my mortality, without an afterlife), it will be through a deep, individual, personal spiritual journey. Going to church or any other traditional religious service is far too external. Organized religion may give people rules to abide by, but attending services does nothing to truly satiate the desire for an inner, intimate connection to God. It feels awkward and forced to try to bare the most intimate thing in the world--my own soul and my own spirituality--in a crowd of singing, praying worshippers. I'd feel less exposed having sex in a public park.
I feel like learning the art of meditation is my best chance at deep, meaningful self discovery. I am fascinated by Taoism and Buddhism and other Eastern philosophies and I feel as though these schools of thought do not get the credit they deserve in the Western world. They were around long before Christianity, and seem to be so right in their focus on the only thing in this entire universe whose existence one can believe in with almost complete certainty--oneself. And from that, hopefully one's connection with something much, much larger than oneself.
I have been procrastinating about embarking on this route of discovery, which is foolish and inexcusable, as it is the only route in the entire world that has any meaning (This is obvious even as I consider it now, with my minimal knowledge. I am made immediately aware of how petty, useless, and meaningless the majority of our day-to-day interactions actually are). This stops now. Tomorrow after work I will hit up a bookstore and begin to learn what I can. I hope to reap the grains of truth that exist in all faiths, and find them within myself. I will find peace.