It was 3:40 AM last night and my bladder got full enough to stir me to wake up and get out of bed and off to the bathroom. (more frequent urination- yet another wonderful thing that aging has done to me...) On my way back I experienced what I call a "death pang". It's where the idea that I'm going to die no matter what I do suddenly surfaces to the forefront of my thoughts. Needless to say, speaking as Atheist, it scares the shit out of me as I suspect the most likely outcome is that I will succumb to nothingness and everything I've experienced and done becomes meaningless and pointless as I fade into oblivion.
I'm sure those with faith, or spirituality or religion in their lives don't quite get this way so it's a hard feeling to describe. The best thing that I do to make it pass is to conveniently forget the naked truth and try to force myself to think of other things that are much more pleasant (it's usually baseball, sex or poker, half the time I think I end up masturbating to quell my fears). I recall as a teen that my death pangs were much worse and would keep me up all night at times. It eventually came to a head in college as I had a full blown panic attack where I thought I was having a heart attack one evening (granted I was high as well) and I believed I was going to die. The thought of my impending death sent me into a huge tizzy and I actually convinced my housemate, Jeff to call an ambulance. (when I was told at the hospital I was having an anxiety attack I was truly embarrassed but the Xanax pills I got were awesome...)
These days I'm old pro when it comes to anxiety attacks. So, despite the fact that my death pang last night gave me a rapid heart beat and accelerated breathing, I did manage to calm down in less than a few minutes. In some ways dealing with my bipolar nature and separating my logical self from my emotional self enables to me get through my anxiety attacks without much effort. Keeping that narrative distance is what allows me to evaluate crises much better. I simply assure myself that I am having an anxiety attack and it will pass if I distract myself. I just popped open my laptop and visited Redtube until I eventually found myself tired enough to get back to sleep.
Simple distractions of enjoyment keeps me blissfully unaware of my own mortality for only short periods of time (and writing this blog post ceratinly doesn't help me forget!). And alas, eventually I won't even have to worry about about as death will visit me like it does everyone else. Maybe I'll be lucky and science will extend my life an extra 50 years, but some day I will die and there's no sense in worrying about it. Wish I could just believe myself....