I’m Not Dying While I Live
I used to be afraid of death. As a child, I’d have night terrors wherein I’d be facing a huge black hole of nothingness that would swallow me up and I would think, “this is death. This must be what death is. All this nothing.” And I was scared. There was nothing there: no love, no warmth, and no comfort…just black silence. Enough to engulf you like dark water and drown you in its cold embrace. This was the image of death that I carried with me into adulthood and so while I danced with depression and suicidal ideation for many years, I was afraid to die because I was afraid of my own vision of death.
Then I tried Ketamine infusions and ‘slipped the surly bonds of Earth’ through disassociation. It must have been around my sixth or seventh treatment when I really felt that I traveled into the realm of the afterlife and knew to not be afraid of what came after life. I’m not saying that I experienced true death, but I certainly experienced a life altering sense of being returned to a wonderful state of being. In my experience I was returning to a sense of wholeness and belonging. There was warmth and comfort and love and all the things missing from my childhood nightmare. I emerged from the ‘trip’ unafraid of death and convinced that ‘heaven’ existed, just not as most of us envisioned it in popular religious culture.
And, as with all things that demand balance, ‘Hell’ existed as well. On another trip, I went there also. And it was dark and menacing and all the things we fear as human beings. And it dragged me down. And I didn’t fight it, but submitted to its depths. Here was my terror come alive in my mind. I wasn’t able to wake or walk away. I was strapped to an IV in a near comatose state and physically unable to stand. So I let go. And I fell down further and further into my fear. But the letting go made it manageable because I wasn’t struggling. I floated softly into my terror and knew that it would end. I knew that I could not be hurt because I belonged to a larger entity of love and peace. This was not my place. This was simply my own horror. This was not where I would go when I died. This was being shown to me so that I could accept the fear in my mind as easily as I accepted the tranquility.
And so in my waking state, in my everyday life, I refuse to die while I live. My greatest fear is no longer dying. I’m okay and at peace with that transition, whenever it comes. My greatest fear now is having a part of me die while I’m still alive. My creativity. My idealism. My motivation. My dreams. These are the elements of my spirit. If I fail to nurture them, then they will die and not return with me into the larger state of being. Then they will be truly lost forever. I must strive to keep them alive as I grow older, and more jaded and more hardened by life. For these qualities are the best parts of the child who still lives within me. And, if I am strong enough to face my terror, then I must also be strong enough to hold fast to my hope. The greatest loss is what dies inside of us while we still live. My greatest wish is to avoid that fate.