Sunday, April 02, 2006

Let's talk about Dying

Self-preservation when one is being chased by a hungry Bengal tiger, or when one is stuck on an ice floe which just declared independence from the Arctic circle is one thing.

Self Preservation when there is nothing but flat green grass in the sun, and lazy days where all you have to do is save yourself from extra calories and the blues, is a non sequitur.

And often, if you have as much time as I do, you tend to spend time on pushing edges. Especially when limits do not come easily to you.

Freedom and anarchy. Jefferson and Hobbes, and because of this: Madison and Rousseau. To be less abstract: I am officially in the land of excess, rules no bar. My parents have faith in me, in spite of having sufficient reason to not. I have no local guardian to report to. I have a stipend. I have time.

Freedom and Anarchy. In order to not dive overboard, people usually institute rules upon themselves. Adopt constitutions, ratify treaties. The signatory parties are usually family, educational insitutions, employers and some religion.

Ergo, Madison's idea about checks and balances. Rousseau's idea of sacrificing in the name of the General Will.

[POLSC 150. Class is such fun, truly. Am told that on friday, Danielle threw a pen at professor Greco coz he suggested that she should go out with Will. Who is Will? Long story. Let's just say he's a character, and then some.]

But what happens if you have no employer, no defined religious dogma and no sense of familial responsibility, coupled with the inability to let substances get to you?


I have been an unapologetic smoker since last June. I have enjoyed the moments it gives, the illusion of grace, the trite rites of passage, the sober visions. Ever since mum asked me to quit in december, I have tried. With some luck, I might add. Went for 2 weeks without a fag; then assumed that if it was this easy to give up, obviously I hadn't done enough yet.

I tend to remain sober inspite of much chugging, and much jd quartering. A fact that I relish with some pride, and others take note of either with wary nostalgia or envy-tinged advisories.

Not particularly given to self mutilation, or vein tapping. But it's becoming quite normal to be up at 4am with an empty pack of Camels and an empty bottle of something.

[N.B- What is it about bourbon? A little cheaper than black label, and I have sworn to sip at J&B only with dad, but still. Ah well. Another blog post, that.]

Have received advisories. I have been told, variously:

1. he isn't worth it [whoever the he is]

2. You'll put on more weight. This said in spite of zero calorie truth about vodka.

3. You'll ruin your liver.

4. You'll ruin your heart.

5. You'll ruin your lungs.

6. You'll die.

The first five points are about the process of living and mortality. For better or for worse, romance and bodily functions will one day fail. So lets talk about dying.

I never was one for romanticizing death. I have feared it on occasion, but I understood the part it played in life.

But here's a truth: I have never lost anyone who I have loved. Not yet, anyway. The one person I mourned for, I mourned for because the one I loved mourned him, and I couldn't stand calm in the face of such sadness.

I am not dying either. Not yet, anyway.

And because of this, I can't write about the calm of death, the beauty of death, its "better-place"ness. Cummings, for example, wrote this:

gee i like to think of dead

gee i like to think of dead it means nearer because deeper firmer
since darker than little round water at one end of the well it's
too cool to be crooked and it's too firm to be hard but it's sharp
and thick and it loves, every old thing falls in rosebugs and
jackknives and kittens and pennies they all sit there looking at
each other having the fastest time because they've never met before

dead's more even than how many ways of sitting on your head your
unnatural hair has in the morning

dead's clever too like POF goes the alarm off and the little striker
having the best time tickling away everybody's brain so everybody
just puts out their finger and they stuff the poor thing all full
of fingers

dead has a smile like the nicest man you've never met who maybe winks
at you in a streetcar and you pretend you don't but really you do
see and you are My how glad he winked and hope he'll do it again

or if it talks about you somewhere behind your back it makes your neck
feel pleasant and stoopid and if dead says may i have this one and
was never introduced you say Yes because you know you want it to dance
with you and it wants to and it can dance and Whocares

dead's fine like hands do you see that water flowerpots in windows but
they live higher in their house than you so that's all you see but you
don't want to

dead's happy like the way underclothes All so differently solemn and
inti and sitting on one string

dead never says my dear,Time for your musiclesson and you like music and
to have somebody play who can but you know you never can and why have to?

dead's nice like a dance where you danced simple hours and you take all
your prickly-clothes off and squeeze-into-largeness without one word and
you lie still as anything in largeness and this largeness begins to give
you,the dance all over again and you,feel all again all over the way men
you liked made you feel when they touched you(but that's not all)because
largeness tells you so you can feel what you made,men feel when,you touched,

dead's sorry like a thistlefluff-thing which goes landing away all by
himself on somebody's roof or something where who-ever-heard-of-growing
and nobody expects you to anyway

dead says come with me he says(andwhyevernot)into the round well and
see the kitten and the penny and the jackknife and the rosebug
and you
say Sure you say (like that) sure i'll come with you you say for i
like kittens i do and jackknives i do and pennies i do and rosebugs i do

I couldn't write like this, I know too much and too little.

A dear friend said once, that the only reason I don't "take care of my health", as he put it, is because I don't know what its like to not have it. I don't know what its like to act like everything is ok, so that everyone around is relatively at peace.

And I want to thank Becca for knowing. I want to say her name when I stand on top of the hill. And I want to ask her, if like me, she has stayed up at night and wasted time bargaining with whatever god's on shift.


Jugal said...

Debauchery and death, isis and seth.
It's not as much fear about dying that one has, it's about dying without a reason that one fears.

It's not about killing one's self that should bother a person about the cigarettes and the whiskey. It's about dying slowly and in a manner one shouldn't desire that one fears. Those statements that friends make and those campaigns that they show - they're as good as any other organised religion. They've forgotten what they're talking about. It's just like - if you don't sleep facing the east you're in trouble with life and god. It's more to do with people forgetting that once upon a time in the huts when people faced the east, the sunrise and the vitamin D mattered, the direction of air and magnetic field mattered.

Now it's the same with cigarettes and booze - people wanna tell you, you'll die. You won't fucking die. You'll live just as much as the others will but how... *shrugs*

I may be a non smoker - but not out of fear of dying - just never felt like it. Oh but the other forms of intoxications... hmmm, boy I'm dying soon :D

sreicanth said...

ok...from what i read it sounds like "when theres nothin really worth the living,no real convictions/struggles etc...then death is a better thing to embrace than life itself" that it??

noThiNG but "fiCUs" said...

I could probably come up with my own insights, but this time I decided I am gonna let the writer Neil Gaiman do the talking:

"Whatever happened to me in my life, happened to me as a writer of plays. I'd fall in love, or fall in lust. And at the height of my passion, I would think, 'So this is how it feels,' and I would tie it up in pretty words. I watched my life as if it were happening to someone else. My son died. And I was hurt, but I watched my hurt, and even relished it, a little, for now I could write a real death, a true loss. My heart was broken by my dark lady, and I wept, in my room, alone; but while I wept, somewhere inside I smiled. For I knew I could take my broken heart and place it on the stage of The Globe, and make the pit cry tears of their own".

{He kinda echoes your line of thought here, and in some ways...mine.Nice post, and something I relate to..specially the smoking bit}