Warning: This post talks about suicidal thoughts and death.
“I’m thinking about death
What if this plane goes down?
That would be okay, you know, I had a good run
I wonder if a lot of people would come to my funeral
Maybe my fans would do something special
Maybe they’d cry and maybe it’d be in the newspaper
Yeah, I think I’d get in the Detroit News
Probably not the New York Times
People’ll probably like my music more when I die
‘Cause they’ll know no more is coming
You see, people love stories with endings
Right now, I’m just sort of a story that’s dragging on slowly
Page by page, year by year
But people want an ending, they want a crash
They want a ear in the fucking mail
But I don’t have one
All I have is another lousy poem
And the knowledge that I’ll probably die somewhere confused and decrepit in a nursing home
I don’t think this plane’s gonna crash”
This section of lyrics is from a song called “I’m Thinking About Horses”. It’s less a song and more a spoken word poem, but anyway. The whole piece has been a catalyst in me thinking more closely about how I live my life. If you haven’t heard the whole thing, you should listen to it. It’s brilliant.
It’s helped me be more conscious about what I’m thinking about in the moment. And I’m starting to realize that I think about death a lot. Not in an overt way, or a way in which is harmful, but more as a curiosity.
As a kid, I was probably unhealthily scared of death. For no reason really, it just was what I did at night, trying to fall asleep. If any therapists want to dissect that for me, I’m all ears.
Anyway, in my early 20s, when everything spiraled in my life, I stopped giving a fuck. There was only one night where I ever really thought about suicide, my 21st birthday, but otherwise, it was just a dull, numb feeling. A feeling of not caring if it all ended.
And since then, my relationship with death has changed drastically. I’ve gotten better mentally, but I do still think about death a lot. No longer in an anticipatory way, or in a way that I am apathetic to. Now, I think about death as intriguing.
An example: Yesterday I was driving on the expressway and passed a car on the side of the road. It was wrecked and the engine had clearly caught fire and flamed the car out. The contents of the trunk were on the side of the road, so I assumed the people in the car had successfully gotten out okay.
But my mind jumped to the alternative. What if I had been in that car? What if the seatbelt had gotten smashed and I couldn’t get out? Then my mind went to self-immolation. Self-immolation is the act of setting oneself on fire. It’s been used throughout history as an act of protest.
It’s astonishing to me that someone could be on fire, dying, and be completely calm and generally immobile. That level of acceptance is intriguing to me. It’s also something that I would imagine would occur when one would be in the fictional car scenario from before. My mind is a curiosity all its own.
There are many other small moments through the course of the day that will open my mind up to death. Again, always from a sense of wonder more than anything else. And I wonder if I’m the only one.
Do we all have these thoughts, and we only don’t talk about them because it’s not a cultural norm? Or is my mind wired differently, always searching for more understanding or opportunities to learn about anything, including the end?
Either way, I’m comfortable with my thoughts. They aren’t dangerous or even negative. I’m a constant learner, even about the worst aspects of the world around us.