I wonder if I’ll ever lose my fear of death.
Seagulls fly above me as I’m walking along the Atlantic coastline. The sun is out and the wind is blowing, but there’s no chance of rain today. Which is good because I never liked the rain.
As I stare at the waves, I wonder how many lives have been lost. Purposefully and accidentally. I’ve always had an intense fear of drowning, and though the sun makes the waters appear neither dark nor deep, I still don’t want to dip my feet into the water. Hell, I don’t even want my toes near the edge. What if I get swept away by the waves that sound so magical in love songs yet are full of danger and ominous secrets of the deep that only death can ever know?
Such a shame. Here I am, trying to relax on the beach, with a cheap camera in my hand as I’m simultaneously trying to come up with fitting words for a caption, which somehow doesn’t do enough justice to the breathtaking sight ahead of me, but in the back of my mind, what I’m really thinking about is how much I’m afraid to drown.
But I’m not the wind, I’m not the sun, and I’m certainly not the rain.
The reaper is nothing to be feared, but I fear him anyway.
I lost count of how many times I suffocated in my sleep.
I used to have a really bad habit of pulling thick blankets and covers over my head because that’s how I stopped the cold draft from flowing into my nostrils and making me sick. I think I’ve only come down with a severe cold for two days out of all the days from 2009 to 2015.
But I know that horrible feeling of being trapped with no air and not being able to pull the covers down in order to breathe. I’ve been quite acquainted with it so well over the years, and I almost lost my life many times because of how paralyzed my muscles felt from the lack of oxygen, but miraculously, just when I thought I was going to stop breathing, my muscles were able to respond and pull the damn covers off my face so I could start breathing again.
Good thing I became smart enough to stop sleeping that way. I got sick more often, yes, but at least I didn’t have to go through muscular paralysis again or risk dying in my sleep.
Seems like I beat the reaper in his games.
But who knows how soon he’ll show up again?
I’m sitting in the dark alone on a cold winter’s night. It just snowed and all I want to do is sleep because apparently, I’m at the point where five cups of coffee simply doesn’t do it for me anymore, but I don’t want to make one more cup because I really want to sleep early tonight and suddenly wake up tomorrow and turn into an early bird that has the power to wake up at 4:30 AM every single day because that’s what successful bloggers do (or at least claim to do), but somehow I rarely end up falling asleep before 1 AM, which I’ve come to accept because my life is not a productivity listicle and I’m honestly not sure if I can ever make it one. I end up going to bed late because I have a lot of last minute thoughts that keep me energized and on fire during the wee hours of the night, and I type them out furiously and then delete them and retype them again, though I always regret not keeping the first things that come to mind because at least they were unfiltered and raw, and I could draw a lot more from them if I had given them a chance.
I’m listening to a song about that guy who’s sailing away and according to some random person on Reddit, it’s just a cheesy and terribly cliché song from the ’70s (that I should be ashamed of listening to), but I listen to it way more than I’d like to admit. I vaguely remember reading about how this song was a parody, but I don’t think it was written that way because I certainly do feel like the singer’s being sincere about his dreams for the future and how nostalgic he feels at the same time, and I sometimes also daydream of learning how to play this song on piano and uploading a cover of me singing it on YouTube, not because I want to be a star or anything, but because it’s one of those songs that I can’t help but sing along to and I feel so damn good singing it. I mean, it probably means more than just following your dreams, but after a hundred Google searches, I still haven’t concluded whether this song is really about aliens or a Biblical prophecy from Ezekiel.
I want to sail away too, but every time I think about the deep waters, I think of how the reaper might be lurking underneath. And how the deep waters now hold the dreams that were too heavy for me to carry, so much that I let go of them and left them to drown.
But what is the point of dreams if the reaper swallows them whole?
I try creating a planner in my old bullet journal from last year, but it doesn’t end up looking at all like the flawless spreads on Instagram. I think I ripped out at least 20 pages from this journal because it looks so emaciated and torn, but I can’t bear to just throw it away or spend $20 on a new one because I’ll probably end up messing it up with pen markings and ripping out pages again. So I keep my imperfect journal and remind myself that it’s just a tool to help me keep track of dates, habits, and a few small projects I had in mind.
I had a lot of dreams, but I lost them along the way.
I think back to the very first time I ever held a novel I wrote in my hands. And how I ended up ripping the pages apart and throwing it away a year later because it was complete teenage rubbish and knew that I did it all to get the angst out of my system along with my desperate hope of a breakthrough, which was a fool’s dream, a shallow dream, a dream for impatient hacks – nothing more.
Last year, I thought about writing a self-help book about minimalism and living a meaningful life, but I never started it because I became disillusioned with all the buzz and hype surrounding the oversaturated self-help market and how someone close to me said that I sound the same as everyone else who’s trying to sell happiness and wisdom based on pseudoscience and honestly, that kind of stung.
But he was right.
For a long time, I claimed to be a headstrong individualist. It was the core of my identity, albeit, one that I was too attached to.
Turns out this “rare bird” is nothing more than a parrot who says nice things that people want to hear, and here I am getting overly self-critical again, but this isn’t about me not being good enough – it’s something more, something that a book can’t teach me, something that soothing words can’t pacify, something that I have yet to figure out on my own. Something I cannot easily uncover in a mad world, whether it’s the one around me or in my head. Or both.
Maybe dreams of dying were the best I’ve ever had, since nothing could compare to dying dreams. Maybe it’s because I’m done running around in circles trying to come full circle yet feeling incomplete every time.
And sailing away won’t help me conquer this.
I wonder if my dreams are really dead, lying in the depths of the sea. And I wonder if I’d be happy to remain on solid ground for the rest of my life and never get to sail away to the mythical land of dreams, schemes, and apparently, starships that don’t even exist.
And I wonder when the reaper would arrive to steal my life away, like the way he stole my dreams as I cried and begged for more chances to make them come true. But willpower was no match for the reaper, and I learned that the hard way.
Even so, I’m not afraid anymore.
When I think about death, I think about a chance to be born again. I think of a new life ahead of me. Something simpler. Something that doesn’t involve rising above the world. Something I don’t have to sail away from. Something that isn’t to be feared.
I lost who I was, but in losing her, I found who I am.
I really have nothing left to prove and it’s best to leave it that way.