Sunday, September 11, 2005

We've got to stop thinking we're better than each other

When something happens like the thing that happened four years ago today, or what happened thirteen days ago today, you have to adjust to a new reality. Some things you thought you knew, you have to un-know, and that's hard to do. You have to replace them with new ideas about what your take is like. You can't go along thinking anymore the way you did.

I'm young, but I feel so cynical sometimes. I don't want to know the difference between innocence and ignorance, but I do.

When I was a kid and rode in cars I always watched the windshield to see how bugs got smashed on it. I was told at an early age by one of my many crazy uncles the stupid joke that goes, "Q: What's the last thing that goes through a bug's mind before he hits a windshield? A: His ass." (Yes, my uncles said "ass" around me when I was a small child. They also taught me how to hit a target with a crossbow, how to piss people off, and what not to say to your mother when she buys you a Christmas gift you don't like, all by example. It explains a lot about why I am who I am today.)

Tree-hugging hippie that I was, even at a young age, I was always offended at the wording of the joke, which never changed: "...before he hits a windshield." The bug doesn't hit the windshield. The windshield hits the bug. For God's sake. The bug is just minding his own business, and then he's obliterated. What really does go through a bug's mind? What is it like to go from conscious being to dead. ended. in the blink of an eye? It would take a microsecond for the bug to make that transition.

It's a bad analogy, but I thought about it on that day. You know, that blue blue day that everyone's posting about today. When the planes hit the towers, judging from the massive fireball, death was instantaneous for the people on board the planes (and on the particular floors of the buildings that the planes hit). Those people must have been vaporized, gone from traveling through the air at a terrifying rate of speed, to nothing. Gone. No trace of their corporeal existence but flames, which you can't pick up and touch and know.

Aside from the anticipatory terror of knowing you're going to die, the actual moment of death--the second your body stops housing your alive self--would that be a bad way to go? To move so fast from being to nothingness? You don't have time to fight for life. You don't have time to notice you're dying. You're just dead. You don't lie in the street dramatically clutching your chest where a bullet-hole wound pumps blood out of you. You don't stare wide-eyed your hospital-room ceiling and gasp for breath. You don't fight off a wretched and terrifying pain-haze of a heart attack. You don't die from giggity-giggity-giggity after looking at a Zhang Ziyi photo. You're just dead.

I've been waking up terrified in the night for the past couple days. I think I'm doing okay, and then I wake up and I am so scared that everything I think I know is wrong. It's scary. It's so scary. It's so solitary. It's like I'm the only one left--and I don't know what that means. The only what?

In the daylight, it seems trivial and meaningless and I forget it and I go on with my day. I went to visit my grandmother today. She's in good spirits, despite her poor bashed-up body. Her left hand is just amazingly gross looking. Lucky for all of you, the card-reader on my computer is temporarily not working, because I took a really disgusting macro shot of it when my ma was cleaning out the wound and putting on a new bandage, and you can bet I wanted to post the image.

Tonight after M went to bed at a reasonable hour like reasonable people do, and the house was dark, I was walking toward the computer to turn it on and I saw my backlit reflection in the framed Mandala print (kind of antithetical to the concept of a sand mandala, but I love to look at it anyway) we have in our living room--my silhouette, a dark shape against a light background that changed as I moved. And I got that feeling again. That terrifying, I am so fucked, oh God make this stop feeling. Luckily it only lasts for a few seconds, but after it goes, I'm left at the center of this pit of dark what-the-fuck-am-I-doing-with-my-life emotions.

I'm not going to write about those.

Instead I'm going to take a survey:

What do you think happens to you after your body dies?


At September 12, 2005 12:25 AM, Blogger Mr. Brightside said...

"For if there is a sin against life, it consists perhaps not so much in despairing of life as in hoping for another life and in eluding the implacable grandeur of this life." - Albert Camus

I don't think too much about what happens after as that takes time away from the what happens during.

At September 12, 2005 12:43 AM, Blogger Allan said...

I agree with Mr. Brightside.

I just don't even think about it.

I live for today. I live like today is the last day of my life.

Every day.

At September 12, 2005 12:52 AM, Anonymous Fitèna said...

I don't think about death as in THINKING and PONDERING and MUSING over Death. What scares me are the circumstances. Ever thought about dying alone. I mean dying in some place with no one around you, no friends, no family no nothing. I think thats the worst way to go. Not for you. You wouldnt be here anyway, but for those staying behind still cluthing straws of hope for your eventual return.
I've got to agree with the first 2 comments here. You never know when a windshield is going to hit you, so live the day like its your last day and forget not to let the people you love know that you love them. You never know....

At September 12, 2005 1:09 AM, Blogger Jenelle said...

I like to think that your life energy and all of the good things you were get absorbed by the universe and get recycled and put to good use, if that makes any sense to you...

At September 12, 2005 1:30 AM, Blogger suleyman said...

Great post.

This Zhang Ziyi teasing needs to stop, man! Giggity-giggity, I'm dying!!

Which brings me to the main topic. I do believe in an afterlife. If you've ever listened to lots of soul music you'll know without a doubt that there is an afterlife. Soul comes from somewhere. Al Green isn't just pulling it out of thin air. It comes from something. The Essence. No, not the magazine. That which moves all things. Geez.

I've spent a lot of time thinking about death. Does that make me morbid? Perhaps. If I was crushed tomorrow I don't think I would protest. Death and dying don't bother me on a personal level. Sure, I'd love to stay here, but a fella's gotta sleep some time.

It would be great to be up there jamming with Warren Zevon.

Oh, and tomorrow, I'm writing a Zhang Ziyi post just so we can get this out of our system for good.


At September 12, 2005 4:16 AM, Blogger Sangroncito said...

What happens when we die? That is so unknowable...but when I figure it out I'll tell you.
I'm leaving today...heading down to Salvador but making stops and won't have much internet access until I get there the first week of October. I'll be back lurking on your blog when I get there...until then, take care...hugs, sangroncito

At September 12, 2005 8:47 AM, Blogger Spencer said...

What a question to think on what happens to us after the body dies? very deep question I need more time to think about this.

At September 12, 2005 9:52 AM, Blogger Allan said...

May the Force be with you, Jenelle!


At September 12, 2005 11:17 AM, Blogger cmhl said...

hey-- just so you know, I am totally familiar with the "That terrifying, I am so fucked, oh God make this stop feeling." So sorry we have that in common. I kind of feel like I am the only person in the world that gets these feelings of horror and dread. You described it well. And nothing (that I have found) that you can do about it.

what happens to your body after you die? Consider, I am smack-dab in the middle of the bible belt, and have 12 years of parochial school under my belt. I think your body does nothing-- just turns back into dirt. As far as your soul/essence/ spark? I'm a believer in judgement.. Which concerns me, to be honest..

At September 12, 2005 3:41 PM, Blogger Mr. H.K. said...

Wow. What a post... The body doesn't matter... It's the spirit that matters.


Mr. H.K.
Postcards from Hell's Kitchen
And I Quote Blog

At September 12, 2005 5:32 PM, Blogger d.K. said...

I've said it before and I'll say it again, I love reading this blog. You are so well-grounded, and you capture and express so many of the joys, fears, hopes, questions, and emotions we all have but could never adequately articulate. Also, you just seem so huggable - I don't know any way else to say it. :) I hope M grabs you every now and again and just squeezes.

At September 12, 2005 7:26 PM, Blogger The Great Saphenous said...

If you die of natural causes, you sleep until your hair and nails stop growing. When you wake up, your soul is completely recycled, and you don't remember anything from your previous life. You wake up in a new body, and life starts anew.

If you die unexpectedly, your soul is transfered into the body of a person previously determined as schizophrenic/psychopathic/split-personality, and you live the rest of your former life vicariously through the other person.

If you die unexpectedly in your sleep, you life your entire life in reverse. Once you reach the beginning, it starts all over again.

If you die while doing math homework, you are transported to a parallel universe where the only thing one can do is to try to find the solution to an impossible math problem. When you find the solution, another problem is given to you, and so on.

At September 12, 2005 7:36 PM, Blogger Jen said...

Oh man, I can't even get started on this. I'll talk forever. It's so bizarre- lately I have been panicked about some of the same issues. I have never been one to freak out from terrorism, natural disasters or even car crashes, but lately it's on my mind all too much and I think about death a lot. And I completely terrified of it. I just had this conversation about death with my husband's uncle last weekend. I told him I was scared and he was trying to help me come to peace with it. But I just can't. Partly because I don't know what happens after death. Is there life? Will I be comforted? I can't stop thinking about it, especially in lieu of what's been happeneing around our world. I'm afraid of everything now. I am a diver, and refuse to go b/c of earthquakes/tsunamis. I don't want to fly anymore. I don't want to be in large skyscrapers. And really, I'm not just making petty claims here. I am physically noticing a reaction when I start to think about or partake in these activities. Never, ever before have I been panicked in these situations.

What the heck does happen to our bodies after we die? I wish someone could tell me. I WANT to have faith. I WANT to believe. But I just can't yet.

Hope you can sleep better soon.

At September 12, 2005 7:40 PM, Blogger Jen said...

One more thing. Did you happen to catch that documentary last night on the 9/11 plane crashes? They played all the actual recordings of people on the planes, about to die, calling their loved ones to say goodbye. I lost my shit. I couldn't handle it and had to change the channel. Sickening.

At September 12, 2005 8:47 PM, Anonymous E said...

Hey, J...I answered your question in my post tonight....hope you get some sleep soon.

At September 12, 2005 10:15 PM, Blogger utenzi said...

Decomposition starts up very quickly. That's the body. As far as I can figure the mind is just an artificial construct--what we refer to as a mind is just the sum total of the processes going on in the brain. Soul? I have no idea. I doubt it exists but there's no way to know.

You might consider some type of chemical regimen for your night terrors. That sort of thing can go away on its own, or get worse. It sounds like you're at the transition point--and it's hard to guess which way it'll go. Good luck and I hope you feel more confidence in the world soon.

At September 12, 2005 10:30 PM, Anonymous em said...

i hope its like dreaming- the nice ones that make you want to sleep forever... not the freaky ones that keep you up listening to your own breath at 4 in the morning-

At September 12, 2005 11:13 PM, Blogger Indigo said...

I think you float around as a spirit and 'touch' the hears and minds of those you love.

At September 12, 2005 11:13 PM, Blogger Indigo said...

I meant to say "hearts".

At September 13, 2005 12:03 PM, Blogger deputyswife said...

I believe in the afterlife. I do believe there is a God and he has a master plan for us all. It is just that I refuse to think about it.

I am terrified of death. It comes in cycles for me. Where I lay paralyzed with fear in bed at night. Frightened that myself, my husband and my children are going to die an untimely death. I hate that feeling. I don't know why I get it, but I do.

At September 13, 2005 4:58 PM, Blogger mg said...

ooh, good question!

Personally, I believe in reincarnation. I know my soul will move into it's next karmic level and I will *hopefully* learn the lessons I'm supposed to while I'm there!

When I'm done with the Karmic circle, I'll go to a beautiful, peaceful garden... and get to eat as much chocolate ice cream as I want~ forever!



At September 13, 2005 7:00 PM, Blogger arthist99 said...

I posted my response on my blog as well. You got me all inspired and stuff.


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