Note: The following is not a suicide note—so don’t call the police. I don’t answer the door anyway.
No one likes to hear about other people’s dreams. But bear with me …
My dreams of late are extremely indicative of how I feel about life—my life, specifically—but also my inability (unwillingness?) to value life in general. It’s not an easy thing to admit, but it’s true. So there it is.
Most people value life above all else. The survival instinct is very real—God built it into us.
It seems to me that most people are fearful of death. They want to put it off for as long as possible—as if they were procrastinating over some really dreadful chore they just don’t ever want to do—a task even worse than whitewashing a fence. Unfortunately for them, and unlike Tom, they can’t get anyone to do the job for them. Most people want to live forever. That’s to be expected—when you consider that most people are unsure about what comes next.
Some believe that when you die it’s over; you simply cease to exist. You took the ride, and now it’s time to get off—just nothingness from now on. Others believe you go around and around again. No one has yet been able to explain how we managed to “evolve” a soul or spirit that keeps hopping on the ride. Wouldn’t a “god” have to make that possible? It seems to me that people’s inability to remember a previous life is proof enough that it’s nothing more than a silly, made-up hypothesis (invented by someone who was afraid of what lay beyond the grave).
Everybody wants to go to heaven, but nobody wants to die.
Where’s the person who can remember that he hauled enough crumbs to the nest—and then worked really hard through his next sixty lives—to finally get promoted to human being? Give me a break.
And then are those who believe that Christ is real, that He asks only for us to believe in Him—and believe that He died so that we could live forever with Him. Is that any harder to believe than evolution or reincarnation?
Anyway, that’s what’s at the root of my non-fear of death. Not only an absence of fear but anticipation. I know where I’m going after this silly journey. And honestly, I can’t wait to get there. Yes, I embrace the idea of dying—even though I’m only 54. The only thing I am afraid of is a painful and/or prolonged death. But who isn’t?
It’s truly amusing to see the horrified expressions of those who react with alarm at the thought that I am not enjoying this ride and would like to just get off now. You mean you don’t want to live forever—or at least as long as you can because dying is just so … I don’t know … unnatural? You mean you aren’t afraid of what happens next?
In the past, during some occasional bouts of depression and anxiety, I’ve seen physicians, hoping to find some relief. But when discussing depression or anxiety, the doctor will predictably ask: “Do you feel like you want to “hurt” yourself?” (Who says doctors don’t have a sense of humor?) Yes, I want to hit my shin with a tire iron; I want to plunge a shish kebab skewer through my eyelid. I would stick bamboo shoots under my fingernails, but the only ones I can find are the canned variety at the grocery store—and they’re soggy, so they don’t hurt—not even a little bit. Are you so afraid of the word kill? Suicide? People who are terrified of the word “died” are the reason our vernacular now includes such euphemisms as: He “passed away”. Or … We “lost” her. He “slipped away”. I want to react just like Annie Wilkes: “Slipped away!? SLIPPED AWAY!?
So I’ve learned to just keep my honesty locked up—as tightly as the doctors lock up the prescription pad, which is one of the things that would help. You gotta love the irony; you ask a doctor for relief from depression, and the response is, to paraphrase: I can’t give you anything that works (read schedule III or IV controlled substances) because you could use it to “hurt” yourself.
“Yes, but I’d feel better.”
“Well, that may be true … but you’re not allowed to feel good.”
“Why? Because I might enjoy life again and want to live, after all?”
“No, because you could become addicted.”
And who hasn’t thought about suicide? If you’re honest, you probably have—if only as a philosophical pondering while twiddling your thumbs one day—or maybe even during some difficult times in your life. You’re not a freak; you’re normal.
It’s not that I have such a terrible life. Not at all. I’m thankful for my many blessings. But somehow, despite all that, I’m not enjoying myself the way I’d hoped I would. I’m lost in the past. I am continually recalling the “good old days” from my late teens through my twenties. Those were “the good times”. And not just because time has erased most of the pain—but because I really did have more fun back then. Back then, I thought the really good times lay ahead. And I suppose for some they do. I got all mine at the beginning.
Anyway, my dreams …
Last night I dreamt that I was walking along a road in upstate New York. And when I separated some foliage to see what lay beyond, a lake suddenly appeared, and I fell off a cliff that was really high—like two miles high. And because I was so high up, I knew I had a lot of time to fall; but better than that, I realized there was absolutely no way I was going to survive the hit. So I relaxed and decided to enjoy the descent. Like a skydiver I began to just … fly.
A few things made this dream extraordinary: I didn’t get jolted out of my sleep when I fell; I was certain I was going to die (which gave me satisfaction because I knew that in a minute or so I’d be in God’s presence); and I actually began to enjoy that ride—the one that was going to take me home.
In dreams similar to this one I’m in an airliner that’s plunging to the earth—with a 100% chance that we’re going to get smashed into tiny little hors d’oeuvres for the wildlife, served on aluminum shrapnel; but rather than scream and claw and clutch at the nearest passenger, I begin to pray … and just wait … because, again … I know where I’m going—but above all, I know it’s not going to hurt.
The ending to both types of dreams is always the same: I survive.
And then, as I wake up, I’m really disappointed … because it was only a dream.