Death, Dying, and Existential Angst

Lately I’ve become acutely aware of this feeling of gloom that’s been following me around nipping at my heals like some starved mongrel.  That’s not to say this dark void that passes through me has remained entirely opaque, for I have been aware of some form of psychic mass weighing on me for the past year or so.  It’s not tied to any overt trauma like the diagnosis of terminal cancer or the death of a dearest Aunt May; no this is the sort of dread born deep within the id and thrust upward toward the airy heights of the conscious mind, and if the title of this post is any indication then the cause of my occasional dark thoughts is that one simple yet so important question plaguing humans since our organic computers first became self-aware: Why must I die?

I suppose the best place to start this bit of self-reflection is with…some self-reflection.  It was sometime during last winter when I would find myself overcome with these feelings of dread over my position in life and where I was headed.  I was driving around the Southern Tier delivering medical supplies to various offices, clinics, etc. which required me to put in long hours in adverse conditions.  Day in and day out I drove hundreds of miles in treacherous blizzards ensuring the safe delivery of IVs, pillow cases, rubbing alcohol, band-aids, etc. to disgruntled nurses when this feeling of “is this all I will accomplish with my life” started popping its pessimistic face out of the subconscious bush.  This feeling of failure is important to me, for I read it as an urgent message sent to myself through the bio-highways of the brain saying “Hey dummy, get off your ass and be something more than a truck driver!”  A strong message indeed, but how does this get to the question of dying?

That’s an easy question to answer: I’m afraid of dying without leaving my mark.  It’s not the process of dying that scares me; it’s not truly having lived and shedding the mortal coil full of regrets which frightens me so.  Fast-forward a year later and things have improved somewhat.  I’m not slaving fifty hours a week for meager wages anymore (Thanks chronic shoulder affliction) which does leave me much more time to pursue my passions of writing and studying every aspect of humanity I can get my eyes and ears on.  Of course what I strive to achieve and the roads which need to be traversed are much different than before; there is a security and comfort found in having an employer with their benefits, 401K, guaranteed raises, and Christmas parties. However, with that security comes the mundane and imaging myself thirty years from now with only faded memories and some shitty parting gift as souvenirs for my toil is the most fearful conception of a life spent.  Better to eat lead now and save the slow pathetic decline.  So I travel down new roads and seek new opportunities.  I want to create my own way through this fascinatingly crazy thing we call life and when my story comes to its final page I want the last paragraph to be full of smiles.

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