My Whole Expanse I Cannot See…

I formulate infinity stored deep inside of me…

Jul 20


Category: Life,Random Thought

I love it when something I’m reading reflects things that I often think on. I’m currently reading The Tyrant by Michael Cisco and last night I came across the following passage…

When Ella was thirteen, she realized she was going to die, and for a month she lay awake every night in terror, flat on her back afraid she might vomit, rigid, nodding and starting nearly jolting herself out of bed, finally she would fall asleep. Now she sleeps better but with no warning she is sometimes ambushed and paralyzed with terror of death … Looking around the car, she can see each of these faces in its casket, grey flesh limp, eyes fallen in, nightmare caverns of stiff nostrils black as pitch, sagging ears, slack cheeks drooping away from a wired jaw and permanently sealed, livid mouth … The opposite bench is empty, in the black pane of the window above it there’s a wan dewy frowse, Ella, and above all she can see that face in its casket, purple-black bruises make a wide ring around her eyes, her hair dry as hay, weirdly friable and clumsily gathered on the stiff cushion – “just fucking burn me” she says with cold lips sutured shut.  In her mind’s eye she’s searing, melting and shriveling in the flames, locks of hair flap here and there in gusts of fiery wind – and that would be something like life, it would be a decision – as if she had set the fire – instead of that passive acquiescence to rot away in a wet hole.

I’ve had that exact kind of experience. I remember as a kid, maybe ten or eleven, something like that, I’m in the van looking out the window when the idea hits me that one day the sky and the trees will keep going, but I won’t, I’ll be dead. My mom, my brother, they’ll die too, but even then I realize I’ll probably die first. Everything will keep going, but I won’t. Then I start to think about everything that happened before I was born, how I didn’t exist and time kept going until I did. I remember being absolutely terrified for a few minutes. I remember that experience vividly. Long before the last year or two, before tasting it so many times, I’d thought about death and time and existence.

Sometimes, especially at the mall, I look around at everyone with their cellphones and shopping bags, I think to myself that we’ll all be dead. People who are so young and stylish, texting their friends and drinking chocolate lattes, they’re all going to lose everything that seems so important right now and they won’t exist. I think how some will grow old and die quietly. Some will get sick and die in hospital, slowly, they’ll know it’s coming. Then, of course, I think of myself dying, how it’ll probably be some kind of acute respiratory failure. At least for a few minutes I’ll know what’s happening and I won’t be brave about it. Everyone in the entire mall will be gone, but the world will keep going and that day at the Macy’s and the Starbucks won’t matter at all.

I’m definitely not obsessed, but I do think about these things. Sometimes, like Ella, I don’t sleep.


8 Comments so far

  1. Dqm July 20th, 2008 10:34 pm

    The truly brave know and understand death. They fear only not living a full live. Not long, but meaningful to themselves and others.

    I think, from reading your blog, that you are brave. I don’t think that will change for you.

  2. michael July 21st, 2008 2:29 am

    It’s probably accurate to say that I fear both.

  3. Ormolu July 21st, 2008 1:57 pm

    This is probably not the best place to post this, but – it’s good to see you writing more often! I always enjoy reading your blog.

  4. Michael July 21st, 2008 2:00 pm

    Why not?

  5. Ormolu July 21st, 2008 6:17 pm

    Ah… I feel like I should reply to this post with something more substantial than just “It’s good to see you writing more”. *blush* A failing on my end, not yours. 😉

  6. Ormolu July 22nd, 2008 12:53 pm

    Oh. Here’s something more substantial than my earlier flip comments. If it makes sense.

    Thinking about the world continuing without me is distressing, but at the same time, I find a sort of comfort in realizing that death was experienced by all those before me. Dying is new and unknown to me, but while I may -feel- alone in it, I’m truly not.

  7. Snotty McSnotterson July 25th, 2008 6:27 pm

    Great book, great post. A friend of mine posted something on her blog about YOUR blog, and that’s how I found you. I have enjoyed all of the posts I’ve read–you’re a wonderful writer.

  8. Massiel July 31st, 2008 4:39 pm

    Our works in stone, in paint, in print, are spared, some of them, for a few decades or a millennium or two, but everything must finally fall in war, or wear away into the ultimate and universal ash – the triumphs, the frauds, the treasures and the fakes. A fact of life: we’re going to die. “Be of good heart,” cry the dead artists out of the living past. “Our songs will all be silenced, but what of it? Go on singing.” Maybe a man’s name doesn’t matter all that much. -Orson Welles

    Here’s the YouTube clip (the good part doesn’t start till 1:09)