Sunday, March 2, 2014

Don't Feel Stupid, We're All Scared

Pretend it's the big one at the moment you pass out
That's just rehearsal, but it's comforting somehow
To practice dying now...

 - "Practice Dying" by Stuart Davis

I'm not scared.

Really. I'm not scared of dying. The thought doesn't bother me; when it comes, it comes, and there's little I can do about it, except live as well as I can in the meantime. Well, there is one other thing I can do:

I can practice dying now.

That idea sounds particularly morbid, at least until you've had some time to really listen to the song. It's not a dark song; it's a remarkably upbeat tune. I highly recommend clicking the title link (and not just because I get a little revenue from it) before you read much further.

If you work in stock or warehousing, you probably use box cutters a lot; I technically work in neither department, and yet still walk around at work with one strapped to my hip. Most people are a little worried about accidentally cutting themselves with one, or being cut by someone else; I'd had some folks freak out when I casually wield it.

I have serious respect for the sharpness of the blade. I have intentionally cut myself with it, as well as unintentionally (though certainly not while on the clock so only I was liable), so I'm not frightened of it happening again. My use of the blade may initially appear to be flippant and careless, but it's far from that, and should I cut myself, be it shallow or deep, I'm confident in my response, my reaction, and my knowledge of how to care for the wound.

I've cut myself with box cutters and razors. I've been asphyxiated to the point of blacking out. I've passed out from sleep deprivation. I've initiated chemical hallucinations. I've triggered panic attacks. I've fallen off my bicycle, and been hit by a car while riding one. I've encountered a coyote late at night while alone and deep in the woods.

While I have serious respect and concern for all of these incidences, because I have history and have spent long hours thinking about reactions and responses, they don't frighten or agitate me.

And after all that, I get nothing but derision in return when asking for pointers for artificially inducing things like sleep paralysis. Seizures are on my list too, but I'm in no rush to get to that one. Those are both events that frighten people, so they get upset when I try to achieve them on purpose (admittedly, the getting hit by a car while on a bicycle wasn't intentional either, but everything else on the list was). What they fail to do is think it through, and reach the conclusion that if you do them on purpose, they hold less fear when they happen outside your control.