It’s not that I want to die. I don’t, in fact I positively resent the fact that at some point, I’ll no longer be. I reckon everyone feels that or rather I can’t imagine under which circumstances you’d think otherwise, well at least once anyway. Possibly when you first realise it and it remains the most unfortunate of facts about being alive that one day it will all end for us, and that the world will barely notice. We all have an expiry date, all of us, so no matter what we do or don’t achieve in life, no matter if our childhood dreams were dashed or surpassed, no matter how much we exercise, adopt a healthy diet or give up this and do that, sooner or later we die.
If you’ve been fortunate enough to have achieved some level of success in one field or another and if this success has made you famous, then tributes will be forthcoming, various famous and not so famous people will tweet something about how they feel saddened, and your death will be mourned by some for a day at most. Andy Warhol said that everyone would be famous for fifteen minutes and now, thanks to social media and the Internet they can be. Whereas in the pre-internet days the death of a singer who had a one hit wonder four or five decades ago would have unreported, now it makes headlines and they are lauded as some great loss to the musical firmament. As if the prove my point, there’s news on the BBC that the writer of ‘I Love Rock and Roll’ has died because of coronavirus. Mmm. A B –side, favoured by radio DJ’s which later became a hit for other people.
And when I write mourning I don’t mean the inconsolable grief of mascara tears down the face and being drunk or off your tits kind of mourning, I mean the think about them for a bit, maybe watch /listen to something of theirs on youtube for a while kind of mourning. How long it lasts depends on how affected by their death you are. If you have some records of theirs, you might play them. If you old films of theirs you might watch them.
Anyway, for most people, the vastest of vast majorities, our deaths will go largely unnoticed. Things will continue on in the own merry way. The sun will still rise everyday, it won’t feel oddly discombobulated by your death and refuse to presage a new day. Nor will the waves cease their ebb and flow. And that’s how it should be. Indeed whenever I’m by the sea and think of this, I find it a comforting thought, that it is only our species that view life as so important. Lions don’t. Tortoises don’t. Tuna don’t.
It’s the moment just before death that scares me though. Ever since I was a young boy and knew I was going to die, I’d sometimes lay awake in my bed at night staring really intently into the absolute nothing of black of my room, just trying to imagine what it must be like. Even now, I can’t sleep in a completely dark room..
What you mean you never did that? Seriously? Do you expect anyone with an I.Q larger than their waist measurement to believe that ever since you found out that you were not an eternal, you never once wondered what is felt like? Even as a child? The relentless nothingness of everything? It fascinated me for hours as a child. You never found Roy’s speech at the end of ‘Blade Runner’ curiously affecting? I know I did.
That moment just before you die, when you know it’s an inevitable certainty, when you van feel the life within you slowly drain away. That’s what I fear most. The terrifying finality of it, the knowledge that all my memories, everything that made me me will be gone in a few moments, that’s what scares the shit out of me. That’s what I dread. I’d like to think I’d be stoic, say something witty or profound, but I fear that I’ll scream like a six year old girl that people who were there might think ‘Thank fuck he’s finally dead, that was just embarrassing. Good job he was dying anyway, because if he’d have seen himself carrying on like that, he’d have died of shame.’
Anyway, here’s ‘The Faming Lips’ and their wonderfully apt ‘Do you realize?’