I’ve Been Afraid of Dying Before 40

I never knew from what it’d be, but as I feel like things circle around me both inside and outside, the more I feel like it’s going to be true.

The worst part of this is, I feel like I will die alone.

The Gut Feeling

The thing is, I couldn’t tell you exactly when I thought it was going to happen. I don’t remember if it was before or after the 2016 election, or if it was during a trip overseas, or if it came about as I was playing video games. I just know that it started some time ago, and as I’ve grown closer to that ripe age, it’s become more prevalent.

Mind you, it hasn’t become more prevalent because I’ve solely been thinking about it. Health issues have started bubbling up that I’ve been trying to navigate through, diagnose and provide care for these last few years. Fitness has been more prevalent this last year, but blood pressure and sleep issues continue to be something I work through despite diagnosis and therapy. The pangs of various discomfort become more noticeable when they do happen.

Then there is the world at large. COVID, political chaos brewing, simmering and then brewing once more, the climate of the world changing more and more drastically… I feel like I am waiting for a powder keg to go off, because I can’t tell if the fuse has been lit already. There is so much going on– so many sparks– that it’s near impossible to tell if it’s a flash in one of many pans, or if between all of them a fuse snakes its way through the chaos, and it’ll lead to a keg that’s been buried underground somewhere.

The Pessimistic Cynicism

At some points, I’ve looked at myself and said, “I’ve lived a good life, despite what I might have thought was possible 20 years ago. I’ve traveled, I’ve made friends globally, I’ve seen wonderful things. I’ve shared stories, helped people, saved lives. If I died tomorrow, I would be okay with it.

“Hell, I’d probably even be a little relieved. I’d be sorry that I’d leave others behind to suffer, but holy shit, fuck this place.”

This thought happens more and more often. Would I be sad to leave friends behind? Would my friends and family be sad? Am I doing what I can to prolong my life and be as healthy as feasibly possible for myself? The answer to all of that is, yes! Of course. I recognize that.

I don’t want to die. But if I do, I feel like it’d be okay.

The thing is, I don’t know that it’s healthy to have that thought. It’s like I am accepting something that may not even be on the table for me. Granted, no one really knows how they’re going to die most times, but with how many events there are in the world, it’s become increasingly clear to me that what will kill me may be very much out of my control.

Dying From Outside

I would guess that many, many people have done a search asking things such as:

  • “Will I die from COVID?”
  • “How do I prepare for climate change?”
  • “Violence in my area”
  • “Should I not have kids?”
  • “Affordability calculators”

Never mind the things that are thrown in people’s faces every day. The radicalization is being amplified on any side, and each side believes themselves in the right(eous). Social media has done more to damage our lives than anything else, weaponized by interested parties to ensure the clicks turn into meaningful dollars for them. Businesses even offer information about how to use propaganda effectively openly on the internet.

Never mind that Facebook (now Meta) willingly engaged in experiments against their users to measure various engagement methods. Never mind that YouTube shares the largest portion of blame for things like Flat Earth Society gaining traction, or that Twitter has had to purge tens of millions of bot accounts. Repeatedly.

The Weight of Knowledge

Inevitably, this translates to what is happening around me. There has been an increase in road rage cases, homicides, gun violence, and domestic violence. I’ve noticed it in every day interactions, in things that I see online where there are fist fights between fast food customers and fast food employees, or anger about measures to keep COVID under control, the increasingly armed behavior of political party enthusiasts…

It just starts stacking up. I keep looking at these things every day, because I feel that if I don’t I am not utilizing what weird intelligence I have to digest it and spit it out to friends and family so they have a condensed understanding of what’s going on. My friends thanked me for being “The Man in the Chair” these last couple of years.

Knowledge is a burden if it robs you of innocence.
Knowledge is a burden if it is not integrated into life.
Knowledge is a burden if it doesn’t bring joy.
Knowledge is a burden if it gives you an idea that you are wise.
Knowledge is a burden if it doesn’t set you free.
Knowledge is a burden if it makes you feel you are special.

Sri Sri Ravi Shankar

And boy, does it feel like I really don’t want to know things.

The Loneliness

So, I have a little under two years before I turn 40. I want to make it worthwhile, because regardless of whether or not I actually die by then, I should live fully. But it’s been very, very difficult with COVID. I struck a flame with someone recently for a little while, but it died out. The woman before that I had fallen in love with (and found out I had been second fiddle to) jumped ship in late 2019. I resented her so much because I wouldn’t have been alone these last couple of years through really tough times if she had chosen me.

“I have just these four walls,” I tell my friends when I describe the quiet in my apartment. It’s been bad for the entirety of my thirties because I’ve been single through all of these years– I have not had a full blown, public relationship that I could proclaim because the interests fall out for one reason or another. Some of those reasons are good, some of them are bad. But I am still alone here. I have friends over sometimes, but they leave and it is just me.

So, will I die without love? Will I lay in bed one night and my body will succumb to something I’ve just felt lurking around the corner? Will violence or an endemic disease claim me? I don’t know.

But maybe if I do, I will no longer be alone.

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