On Death

For some reason, recently I’ve been morbidly obsessed with death. My own death to be more exact. The mere fact that it has been on my mind so much lately makes me fearful. Even though I’m young, I know that my death could ultimately come at any time. I’ve finally been able to contemplate this grim fact with a small semblance of calm and clarity.

I have come to a few surprising realizations. The first is that were I told I was dying, I would start living a vastly different life. Just imagining this makes the things I truly value in this life clear and certain. The surprising part is that I find myself unable to put those things first now. We are all dying. Any one of us could have a fatal car accident or a brain aneurism tomorrow. Why then does the nearness of death factor in at all? There is a bizarre sense of fear that wells up within me when I consider living my ideal life.

I don’t understand it. I don’t understand why that provokes fear and anxiety. It brings me great peace and happiness to imagine waking up tomorrow and living this new life. But the prospect of actually following through with this terrifies me. It is so sad.

Each day on this Earth is a magnificent gift that I am not owed. How am I so easily able to take it for granted? How have I managed to take it for granted for all these years? It is so easy to forget what a miracle it is to simply exist. To stand under the sun and feel it’s warm rays on my skin. To listen to music. To love. To have a home and a family and friendships.

Yet some how I am still able to spend the majority of my time here bafflingly ungrateful. Anxious and afraid. Displeased by the smallest things. I should be shedding tears of joy the moment my eyes open each morning upon another day. I don’t want to allow myself to forget this.

It still feel impossible to change for some reason. But I need to try. I want to be mindful and present in each breathtaking moment of existence. I don’t want to be ungrateful for a single second, constantly reminding myself what a wonder it is to be alive in such a beautiful world. Perhaps I can make myself a small token to carry with me that will embody this intention for myself. Something I can wear or rub between my fingers whenever I notice myself losing sight of things. I have to try.

I will be grateful for this day. I will be grateful for each day to come.

Conor Oberst

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