I’ve been having thoughts or flash images about being shot at the back of my head. I see the bullet wound and the thick coat of red that forms as the bullet hangs half way into my head, vividly from a third party point of view. And every time the image fades back to reality, it leaves an odd taste of acceptance behind. It’s not real. It could be, but it isn’t. This isn’t my first brush with thoughts of mortality. In fact, I’d like to think that my mind is constantly whipping out new worst-case tales. No thanks to the ‘creative’ death I not so very often think about.
It is how I would see myself roll off a flight of stairs, or get hit by a truck, or watch a ceiling fan fall on me for no damn reason at all. If we’re being honest, these are things that we all think about – The eventuality of mortality, amongst other good and evil things. And I don’t think there is anything terrible about letting our minds wander into unknown territories. If for anything, I believe there is a certain therapy that comes with engaging all your senses – what you see, what you hear, what you feel, what you can taste, what you can smell, and whatever your mind is crazy enough to conjure as a 6th sense or extrasensory perception.
I’m talking about being in a constant state of awareness, or as it is called in martial arts, ‘Zanshin’ – relaxed alertness; introspection and being able to connect pieces of your past to your present actions; Observation – of nature’s sounds, of languages, of passing time, of your involuntary actions, of being and how your existence is interpreted in hundreds of ways by hundreds of people, of the subtle lessons life throws at you daily. This utterly complete surrender is perhaps what the creative hangs on to. This knowing. On the one hand, there is a level of serenity it comes with. There is also that feeling that you are god over your life and all that interacts with it. On the other, there is the chaos that comes with realizing that not everything has to make sense or be part of a pattern, and not all questions have answers.
But existentialism is perceived too much as a life crisis. And it sometimes is, especially when it is burdened with the pressures of expectation, religion, or regret. However, the ability to sit still and have meaningful conversations with yourself is a skill that has been lost with the times to forceful interactions, social media, technology, and constant ‘busyness’. It could be as simple as listening to your heartbeat, being conscious of the wind on your skin, watching random people talk/behave, feeling your fingers turn a page, or as complex as watching yourself become a new person that you have to get familiar with.
What simply matters is that we learn to live (and learn) through life and that we don’t actively run away from the devices of our minds. We are after all, humans. What’s the point of being this complex if we’re not going to put all the complexity to good use anyway?