Illustration by Evan Wolff | http://www.evanthewolff.tumblr.com/
The subject of life and death caught my eye recently. You know, sometimes you just think about it.
I think about certain things a lot: sports, cool shows that are coming up, getting drunk, girls, and getting drunk. I was born the same year the Ramones’ Pleasant Dreams was released. Over those years, I’ve met a lot of people. I have a large number of close relatives. Their faces cross my mind often. A few of these individuals are deceased. I think of them from time to time—it’s hard not to. In addition, I frequently wonder what’s the point: of life, death, and existence. It seems natural to wonder about that type of stuff. Maybe it’s not. Maybe I’m in the minority on that. Either way, it’s on my mind a fair amount. I don’t mean that I think about killing myself or anything, although I do wonder about people who pull their own plug, as it were. I wonder what would make you do that. I’ll get back to that later. For now, we’ll start at what I consider to be the “beginning” of this type of stuff.
What if I wasn’t born? What if I was an abortion? I know people who’ve had them. Some of them probably think about that quite a bit. Or what if I hadn’t been born yet? I guess that’s the same as if I wasn’t born. What if my parents never met? Or what if they decided to only have one child? I tell my mom all the time that they should’ve stopped at two—or at one if I had been born first. What if I was born somewhere else? I would have different friends and, quite possibly, different interests. Chances are I wouldn’t be writing this column. Sometimes I think about what my life would be like if I was born in another time. Obviously, no one living four hundred years ago could’ve fathomed a computer. There’s stuff that’ll happen in a hundred years that you couldn’t imagine today. Why was I born in 1981? (Shame on you if you didn’t figure it out based on the information I gave you earlier.) Why not 1735? Why Saint Louis, Missouri, U.S.A.? Why not New Zealand? Why am I white? Why not some other color? Why am I not a female? Why do I have my arms and legs? You obviously wouldn’t know if you weren’t born. If you were a miscarriage, you wouldn’t know it.
Now, I know that different people believe in different things. Reincarnation, for instance, is an interesting concept. This might not be my first life. If it isn’t, I don’t remember any prior ones. I don’t really have too many beliefs, as far as that sort of stuff goes. Not to give a homily (I was raised Catholic), but I believe that when I die it will be like when I go to sleep, except I’ll never wake up, nor will I have any dreams. Speaking of that Ramones album, my body will go in a grave or be burned—whatever I decide—and that’s that. I don’t think you become another person, live another life, go to a place called heaven or hell, or anything like that. You just die. Period. Nothing more to it.
I do believe in ghosts. Just because your body is staying put or was cremated, doesn’t mean your “spirit” can’t cruise around. What if this world didn’t exist? Or if it had already ended by now? Again, I guess that’s the same thing. I actually think about that one the most. We’d all be nothing, obviously. Everything would be nothing. There wouldn’t be anything. Think about that. Go to a quiet place and close your eyes. No sound, no images. Black. Empty. That’s what it would be like. But if that was all there, there would be nothing to compare it to. Then again, there would be no one to do the comparing.
I’m not talking about just earth, our solar system, the Milky Way, or the universe. I’m talking about every fucking thing. There wouldn’t even be aliens. Yes, I believe they’re out there. Picture if nothing ever happened. No one would know it, but nothing would have ever started. It would be like when you’re asleep, except you just don’t ever wake up. No start, no action—nothing. And no, I don’t buy that whole Garden of Eden tale. Although evolution’s a strange deal, too. Sure, Galapagos, Darwin, and cavemen make some sense, but everything started with microscopic organisms? Where did those dudes come from? Don’t worry, I’m not going into how life began..
I’m not trying to give you too many of my opinions. I don’t have many on things that actually matter, anyway. I just have a lot of questions, most of which many of you also have. If you’re still reading this, I have a few more for you. Sometimes I think I might be dead. You know, like if you died in your sleep and you were just dreaming all of this. I know it contradicts what I wrote earlier. I don’t believe that’s actually happening—I just think it’s a possibility. What if we’re all dead and we don’t know it? How would you know? Is that why some people kill themselves, to see if they’re already dead? Shit is getting deep, I know.
I understand the concept of death. I just don’t like it, that’s all. I know I’m not the only one. I wanna die before both of my parents do. I don’t like wakes or funerals. I mean, I really don’t like them. The grim reaper can suck my dick. I also wanna live to be over a hundred, so my parents better be ready to get really fucking super old. I guess it’s selfish to not want to see your parents die, but come on!
What I really don’t get—and I know people say it all the time—is the “when” part of death. How does it make any sense for someone who has lots to accomplish to die at a young age? Or why do some completely worthless pieces of shit make it through eighty or ninety years on this planet? It’s said frequently, but you know there’s no one called Yahweh when good people die every day. Or more mind-blowing is the reality of children dying. What did they do to anyone? Even the really shitty ones truly don’t know any better. Some kid drowns in a bathtub because the asshole parents aren’t keeping an eye on him or her, but those asshole parents make it for eight decades. Riddle me that, Batman.
I have a friend who died a handful of years ago. He was a talented musician, a really nice guy, never said anything about anyone, was funny as hell, and got in a car wreck. I’m far worse at music, talk shit on plenty of people, and am an asshole. I’m actually a pretty nice person, but why am I still here? Was he not going to accomplish anything else? Is there something big for me on the horizon? Probably not. I’m not into that whole school of thought anyway. Just keep plugging along and something good will happen to you. Bullshit. Things happen because you make them happen. Sure, you have to put yourself in a certain place at a certain time, but you’ve also gotta do a little work. Maybe I’m supposed to be mayor in twelve years. Doubt it, but some people do think that way. I’m just “supposed” to wake up everyday and do whatever I think seems right, until I don’t wake up or something happens to me. That’s all.
My mom’s parents died from health problems when I was a kid. The deaths weren’t too far apart. What sense does it make for two of my grandparents to die when I’m seven or eight? And then my dad’s mom made it until I was about thirty, but she had Alzheimer’s so bad for the last few years of her life that she didn’t even know who I was. I’m not saying she should’ve died sooner, but it just makes me think. My younger brother had a friend in high school that died of cancer. What is that shit? High school.
A number of my friends have started to lose their parents in the last few years. That’s when you really know you’re getting older. If your parents are old enough to die of common health conditions or natural causes, you are old. I’m thankful that mine are both in good health, but that doesn’t mean anything. I’m not daring death, but healthy people die every day from other things. Eat right, exercise, and get your sleep. For what? To maybe die at the hands of a serial killer? Or a natural disaster? How do you know it won’t happen? You don’t.
So you can either hope it won’t and do what you can to help your chances, or just have a fuck-it-all attitude and do whatever you want. Either way, no one knows when their time will come. It’s sad that it’s come to it, but knowing people my age who have lost a parent has made me want to spend more time with mine. I’ve always meant to, but there’s nothing like thinking about if your mom or dad were dead that’ll make you drive to their house for no reason other than to hang out. I don’t think they’re gonna die soon, but I don’t know. So maybe I shouldn’t be a jerk almost every time I see them. Maybe I should spend more time with everyone I know. Should I treat everyone as if they’re on their deathbed? Probably not, but we all practically are. I could die in three minutes or in seventy years—who knows.
Life is really fucked when you think about it. While the world is an awesome and beautiful place, it’s also a nightmarish shithole. Why should anyone bring kids into this place? Even the people who’ve got it made, think life is great, and have nothing to worry about probably still think the world’s a dump. Some people have kids because they think it’s what you’re “supposed” to do. Incorrect. Only do it if you really want to. I want to, but I’m not sure if I want to be responsible for other human beings who will inevitably have a lot of the same views on life that I have.
I do believe in genetics. I’m so much like both of my parents that it makes me sick sometimes. Not because I don’t like their personalities, but because it’s sickening to see how that works. Should I have kids just so they can wonder what the point of all of it is? Or why life really fucking sucks sometimes? Or why you should get up at 6 AM everyday and go to work, just to make enough money to keep doing it? Sure, life can be a lot of fun—just not all the time. And sure, it would probably be great to watch your kids have fun, but it’s gotta suck to see your kids hate life and question everything. Either that, or it reminds you of when you were that age. I’m glad my younger brother and his wife have two kids. They’re great. I love both of them. But I feel bad that they’re gonna eventually have thoughts just like all the ones you’ve read here. Some people say they don’t think about this shit. Well, they’re liars. They’re the same people who say they don’t masturbate. I hate liars—they suck. But questioning everything is a part of life. It also means your brain works. So I hope they have these thoughts. It would mean that they’re normal human beings. Although, if they weren’t “normal,” I’d still love ‘em.
Mental illness is a fucked up thing. I think we’re all fucked in the head. Especially the people who aren’t. They’re fucked up the most. You get really down, you think no one understands, you don’t see another way. It’s unfortunate. My attitude is that I don’t know what’s gonna happen next. Even if I’m having a real shitty stretch, I know the future is uncertain. Life’s a surprise. Every minute is different from the next. I could get arrested, or win the lottery, or get hit by a car. You just don’t know. I figure, roll the dice. You can’t win without playing.
Life really is fun, when you get down to it. Sure, not all of it. Maybe you don’t like your job. Oh well, lots of people don’t. Of course you can do something about it, but even if you don’t, you can have fun with the rest of your time. When you’re off work, you can do whatever you want, really. Every one of us—assuming you’re not paralyzed—can go for a walk, ride a bike, eat ice cream (unless you’re lactose intolerant like my older brother), watch TV (provided you’re not blind), rent a movie, get drunk, go to a casino, go to a show, barbeque, or do any other rad shit that makes you happy. That’s what keeps me going. Not so much the uncertainty of life.
I am curious about how my life will turn out, but in the meantime, I want to have fun. I might be in the middle of a really shitty day at work, but I know that when my shift is over, I get to watch a hockey game with my friends at a bar, or have band practice, or go see my nephew and niece. We all plan trips out of town for these same reasons. To get away, literally and figuratively. I’m going to Florida in two days, for Fest 13. I’m really looking forward to it. I can’t wait to wake up on Friday, knowing I’m in Gainesville, and not Saint Louis. I like Saint Louis more than Gainesville (no offense), but it’s gonna be nice to be elsewhere for a few days.
And next week, I might go fishing with my brother and his girlfriend, or play softball, or have dinner with my parents. Who knows? I do know that every day, week, month, and year for the rest of my life I will have things to look forward to. Maybe that’s why some people kill themselves; they don’t think they have anything to look forward to. That must suck. I don’t necessarily think things will “get better” down the road, but I do think I’ll have a shitload of fun. I roll the dice to see what fun times await, not really to hope for a better life. My life is already pretty awesome. My family’s great, I like my friends, and I do lots of cool shit. All I want out of it is to have fun, no matter what the circumstances. That’s where my faith lies; in having a good time.
I believe in fun.