The little voice, the slightly evil one, is speaking. Though it’s late there’s still time. And it’s better to leave wondering about how great the future could have been, than to leave bitter about how terrible the past was.
The little voice is a young man now, and I don’t know if I can beat him in his prime and in my disciplined apathy.
I used to be a better debater. My most sensible argument was that difficulty is the price of greatness. Suffer now to rest later, and it’s better to have the last laugh.
But the voice is telling me a different narrative. A man eating pebbles, and saving the cake he has for the end of the year. He wanted to earn the cake and be deserving of it. By the time he earned it, his stomach was so hardened; it craved nothing but pebbles. The cake, it was rotten and filled with bugs by then.
The plug is pulled on those who can’t experience life, but what about those who experience the worst of life?
No, they must live to preserve others. To give happiness, something they don’t have, to those who have hope. They spend the rest of their existence like that, mere objects.
The plug isn’t pulled when the patient is ready to die, but when the decision-maker feels less bothered by it.
The brave ones are in a better place, the cowardly keep waiting for something unknown at a time unknown.
If I die a miserable bitter old man, heaven will have to exist just before I die.
I have a developed a technique for overcoming my fear of airplanes. I look at the laughing children. I look the elderly. I look at the lovers and the loved ones. I conclude that no good force would allow this plane to fall, not even as a punishment for my inherent evilness.
I conclude that even if the plane did fall, I would grieve the people who had more to lose than myself.
Maybe what I fear isn’t the physical part of flying, but the memories I have in airplanes. It seems every crucial moment in my life involved leaving someone or something.
I remember the tears that forced themselves out of the face I held calm, as I left home back to college. I pretended to be sick and asked my older brother to stop at a clinic on our way to the airport. I wished they would say I had cancer, so that I could quit school and stay home without feeling like a failure.
I remember the interview with the big company. I remember saying to myself as they showed us around their building: “If everything I’ve been through was the price to get here, then I’ll gladly accept it.” The captain flew over the city and away, and my final share of that place was seeing it from afar. Nothing professional about a man with a crumbled suit and crushed pride.
But, for what it’s worth, I’ve never cried over the same cause twice. Leaving familiar places get less upsetting after a while. This is what the optimistic would call grit and perseverance. I think that’s exactly what I fear; not death, but the loss of life. With every flight I take, part of me is lost. The unfortunate way to become strong is to leave the weaker parts behind forever.