Something odd has been happening to me lately. I keep having panic episodes surrounding sickness and death. Some of these panics come in the form of horrible dreams, such as that time I dreamt I had syphilis; and some happen spontaneously during consciousness-- like that time I noticed a pimple on my face and was convinced right away that I had cancer.
This is a relatively new thing for me. I hadn't been dreaming of fatal illnesses until just this past year. When the sudden fear strikes, I am completely overcome by it. I drop whatever I'm doing and panic. Sometimes I'll call for help, and some very unfortunate person has to convince me that I'm not going to die any day now. Other times the fear will be so crippling, I can can hardly breathe, let alone speak. If I'm outside, I'll pace aimlessly and frantically around the city, and if I'm home, I'll lie on my couch and try to not do anything drastic until the feeling washes over.
There are a number of speculations from some of my close friends as to why this is happening. One is that this is residual shame for leaving orthodoxy and the crippling fear that God will smite me any day now. Another is that it is a morbid fear of being dependent on a caretaker and thus not being free. Both of these things make sense to me; I also wonder whether my fear of death is related to my renewed sense of joy in living and my fear of it disappearing.
In any case, I am determined to make this fear disappear. I'm supposed to be a fearless bad bitch. Nothing is gonna scare me, not even the idea of death.
So, tonight, I plan to conquer my fear of death... by envisioning what it probably feels like to be dead...
TRAPPED. TRAPPED INSIDE MY DEAD, NAKED BODY ROTTING AWAY IN A PUBLIC SQUARE, MAYBE IN MIDDLE OF DUPONT CIRCLE. ONE WANNABE HIPSTER COUPLE PASSES BY, NEARLY STEPPING ON ME AS THEY APPROACH A PARK BENCH. THEY'RE TALKING AND LAUGHING WHILE CUDDLING. GROSS. I CAN'T HEAR WHAT THEY'RE SAYING BUT I REALLY WANT TO TELL THE GUY THE BANDANA HE'S WEARING ON HIS HEAD IS TACKY AS FUCK AND HE REALLY NEEDS TO STOP PLUCKING HIS EYEBROWS BECAUSE HE LOOKS LIKE A PEDOPHILE. I WANT TO TELL THE GIRL HER SHRILL VOICE MAKES ME WANT TO GOUGE MY EYES OUT AND HER JOKES AREN'T EVEN FUNNY. BUT I CAN'T TELL THEM ANY OF THAT BECAUSE I'M DEAD. SO I JUST CONTINUE TO SIT THERE AND SUFFER THROUGH THEIR GUT-WRENCHINGLY BORING CONVERSATION. A BIRD LANDS ON MY FACE. IT POOPS IN MY MOUTH. NOW I'M FROTHING BIRD POOP. AND NOBODY EVEN NOTICES. BEING DEAD SUCKS.
Phew! I did it. I envisioned death and I'm one step closer to conquering my fears.
Death is my fate, as it is the fate of every living creature on this earth. We were all born to die. So the only way to stop living in fear of death is to accept that we're all going to die someday, and having bird poop in your mouth isn't the worst thing that could happen.
Perhaps this new practice will help me accept death as my end fate and stop having these horrible nightmares.
How about you? Do you fear death? And if so, what do you envision death will be like?