SIT WITH IT
by Kegan Dillon
I can see it on people's faces all the time, or in their words, especially close friends and family members when the topic arises, which in my family seems to be more often than not. I'm no stranger to death, my father almost died of an allergic reaction to shrimp when I was very young, my brother died of leukemia when I was sixteen, my mother lost a grueling battle with cancer in July of 2018, and if that wasn’t close enough, I was thirty minutes away from my own end on an operating table in April of 2011 after a routine jump in the 82nd Airborne didn't go as planned.
We treat death as if it's not inevitable, as if we can control it when it comes to claim us, so we implement safety strategies or tools such as a seatbelt or airbags to make dangerous activities seem comfortable through the illusion of safety. If we can’t mask the threat of death, our backup plan is to cover the affect of being mortal by looking towards a higher power, belief in an afterlife or divine meaning to our short existence. But we are just searching for some sort of comfort waiting for us in a distant land because we've been conditioned to believe that comfort is something we're entitled to. So we sit and we pray, and we hope that while death is out there touching others, somehow it won't touch us or those we love, but it does nonetheless.
We remove “dangerous” activities as we age, excusing our fear as maturity, we seek “longevity” but what we really yearn for is immortality. Our fear of death is never expressed out loud but can be seen by the activities we shy away from. We stop riding our bikes, we minimize our air travel, and we may even avoid movie theaters for fear of a mass shooting, but this “wisdom” is just fear of the unknown, masked to others and even ourselves.
Ironically, these actions to preserve life lead to a life not lived; our fear of death keep us bound to it. Our brain no longer seeks exploration, our imagination frightens us whenever the turbulence reminds us to stay seated, so we do. We sit through life. We rely other’s adventures, other’s stories through television shows, movies, and even books to quench a thirst that's slowly disappearing because we can no longer turn thought into action. We'd rather watch a movie about climbing a mountain than we would experience it ourselves and we are more likely to explore a virtual world than we are our own.
We've become desensitized, especially in our thinking, because the mediums we use to replace our own capabilities have already given us the answer we think we want. Instead of exploring the thing that scares you through action and intention, we do something in its stead we believe to be similar, but really, we're still just sitting on a fucking couch. We spend years fixated on the challenges and the risk but forget about the reward, the reward is living, it’s a gift we've all been given, it’s just that most of us choose to do nothing with it. We check the boxes, go to work, feed the kids, let the dog out, go to bed, rinse and repeat from now until you have no choice but to change because some tragedy has been bestowed upon you; and that's when the could've, should've, would've’s get the loudest. The guilt of not doing (living) is because of the fear of the inevitable (death). For those of you who still seem to be confused... yes, we're all going to fucking die.