Something has been bothering me all day today. Actually, I should rephrase that; since last night I’ve had something stuck on my mind.
Someone I vaguely knew, if anything someone I didn’t care that much for in very limited interaction, suffered a very serious health issue. Today he passed away. Out of respect for the family and to him, I’ll keep his name and cause of death quiet though I guess if you know me well, you have an inkling of what happened.
This kid was someone I knew in the vaguest sense. We went to the same college together, had one mutual Facebook friend, and were both males. He also was friends with a guy who lived with me last year so he was almost always in my apartment. I knew little of him other than I thought he was kind of annoying as he always sang in our house, just kind of walked into our house without knocking sometimes and used up all of our toilet paper. Yes, that is an awfully petty reason in retrospect but hey; that’s all I knew of him. He definitely seemed nice enough of a person
Anyway, I always saw him on campus and we never interacted. No head nod that signifies “SUP?!?” in the cool guy lexicon, no slight smirk and a firm nod, no handshake, no dialogue; no anything. But I knew him and I always kept in my mind “hey, I saw that kid that was always around last year” in my head so I could tell one of my friends about him. Then we might laugh about him singing Adam’s Song by blink-182 while sitting on our toilet before moving on with the day.
But that’s how I knew him and with his untimely passing it occurred to me that I will never see him again. I will never laugh about our brief interactions together because frankly, tragedy surpasses pettiness in our minds.
However, what really bothers me is not just the fact that he’s gone but because well; why just him?
It greatly disturbs me that one day I will die. That I know how my life is going to an end and there really is nothing to do about it. So I do what every normal person does and PANIC. I freak out and ruin all my friends’s happiness by blurting out “yeah, so how about that thing where we are all going to die like it or not?” and everyone gets all serious before awkwardly leaving. Then we forget about it and go back to laughing at farts because that’s what you do when you are in college.
Yet, the fact remains that its a guarantee what’s going to happen. We know by existing that our story has begun by being born, we know that it will end as abruptly as it began. Life is ridiculously predictable in that sense. However, what gets people is how unpredictable the timing of that predictability is. You didn’t choose to become born and in some cases, you didn’t choose to die; both just seem to happen. What is more unpleasant though is not realizing your demise but realizing that everyone around you at one point will.
Imagine reading a great book, or even a not-so-great one and it just ending with 500 blank pages left. Now imaging reading another one and it going on for way too long and just becoming brutally agonizing after a certain point. That’s what life does to you; it either makes you think “what if” or go “when will this ever end?”. Death isn’t happy as either you aren’t aware of it when it strikes you or it happens to someone else.
Think of how many seconds are in a day and we will go with the whole statistical argument (“math sucks and is for people who laugh at Joey Gladstone’s comedy on Full House!”) that a person dies (and is born) roughly every second of the day. Yes I’m aware that it could mean that six people die all at once and nothing happens for a full twenty seconds or so but let’s just go with this argument.
As Kris Allen told us in that horrible song he had that somehow was a hit, there are about 86,400 seconds in a day. Let’s say that means 86,400 people day daily. About one of them is usually mildly famous, a couple are reasonable close (a friend of a friend, a grandparent of a friend of a friend, etc.) but mostly all are anonymous. When you think of the possibility that 86,400 people die daily and think of how many years you have lived on this Earth; it almost sounds like a mini-miracle that you are still alive. Its like beating the Pennsylvania Lottery over and over again!
That goes to show you how insignificant we all are in this human race. Another thing to think about is think of a big lecture hall class. I think the most I ever had was about 200 or so. To my knowledge, we are all alive but how the hell would I know? Two hundred strangers whether its at your small college or in the real world is still two hundred people. That day will come when one of them just isn’t around anymore, and you will keep living your life blindly to the fact of every day stresses.
But that doesn’t make you a bad person even though you are aware of all the doom and gloom that surrounds us. It definitely makes you feel a bit lucky and a bit sad, but it doesn’t make you flawed. As horrible as it is, people laugh at people. People pity people. People hate people. People are annoyed by people and people love people. There are just so damn many of us (and MANY more to come, thanks a LOT OBAMA FOR MAKING US FORNICATE AGAINST OUR CONSTITUTIONAL LAWS) that you just lose yourself in the process.
I have somewhere in the ballpark of 600 Facebook friends and 900 Twitter followers when you overlap my political account and my normal one. There is some overlap so let’s say I am reasonably in contact with 800 people per day. Then you add in professors, classmates, etc. that you vaguely know and the number inches up. That’s literally how many people you know in some capacity. Everyone else is an anonymous stranger.
So when tragedy strikes nearby; it just hurts you so much more. Why him? Why didn’t I get to know them better? Why was I judgmental? Why was I the bad guy?
You were just being human and none of us can know every single person. When someone passes; it destroys a world I like to imagine. Those friends will always remember him. Those family members will have been dealt such a horrible hand and have to bury their child, which is one of the worst things that life has to offer. Its unfair. Its not right.
All I know is that I feel a lot of sadness. Death exists so close to us and is always lingering. But we still live anyway. Life isn’t all useless even though the end has been spoiled for you. I’m not saying go out and climb Mount Everest while chugging a Natty Light. There’s no point to doing cool things if you aren’t going to appreciate them and are just doing them so you can make a couple cool Instagram shots or tweets that get favorited (but never retweeted and thus costing your shot at trending). I’m not going to run a marathon just so I can be one of those assholes that have 26.2 on their bumper and forcing acquaintances to listen to me “push my body to places I never knew before”.
But maybe I might do it because I just wanted to do it. Maybe all I want to do is read a lot of books, make money off of writing and coaching or just existing and making people laugh. Is that really any less than someone who tries to accomplish it all?
All I know is that there’s no way of knowing you will fill out your Bucket List because that means you know exactly when it will end. Or you will be gravely disappointed.
I wish I could say goodbye to that guy. I wish I could’ve shook his hand or create some sort of bond. I hate myself knowing that I will kind of move on and only casually remember him.
Sometimes I wish life would just let us have a pause button.