Lately, I’ve been obsessed with listening to the song “Shoes for Running,” by Big Boi, with B.o.B. and Wavves. It made it to my Big D Marathon playlist, thanks to a suggestion by my sister. The song is about running, but only in the sense of running from the end - from death - and that it is pointless, because, in the end, death always wins. Death will always “hunt you down.” When, where and how it does it, and what you do with yourself in the meantime, is the mystery of life.
I think I’ve become obsessed with the song, replaying it over and over during my run, because I’ve become somewhat obsessed with death. This year, I have been surrounded by death. From my own family member to friends losing family members and spouses, to a neighborhood couple losing their baby son. At each turn, I’ve been impacted, watching people close to me deal with their grief and being reminded of how much my heart hurt when I first experienced the death of someone close to me.
I remember being shocked by it’s permanence. It was extremely painful and very difficult to accept that that was it. She was gone. I would never hear her voice again. i would never feel her hug again. I would never sit in her kitchen counter and eat a sandwich made by her again. I did not know how to grieve. I did not know how to move on, and I went into the deepest part of my soul and met my demons and I stayed there for several years. I think I had hoped to die, but I just kept living as a shell of myself and I finally decided maybe I should try to live a happy life, despite the despair and despite the fact that I would eventually die and none of what I did would really matter.
All this thinking about death makes the wheels turn in my head during my runs and throughout the day. “What are you doing,” I find myself asking myself. “Is this it? Is this all you’re going to do? Are you happy? Do you have any purpose other than to just keep doing what you’re doing because you don’t know what else to do?” And the tears fall and I run through them, and I have no answers, other than to just keep running. Then the run is over and I move on and go about the day, with that nagging voice in the back of my head.
Someone recently said to me that my belief that my time on this planet was limited and, therefore, I needed to figure out what to do with myself was “amusing.” I could die tomorrow, I could die 70 years from now. What does “limited” mean in that context? It means just that: limited. Today is limited, tomorrow is limited. 10 years from now is limited, 20 years from now is limited and 100 years from now is limited. I know my Granny would have wanted one more day on this planet, healthy and free. Thus, her time was limited. In every respect, it was limited.
As I keep reflecting on death every day (yes, I think about death almost every day), I think what scares me is that I see some of my demons coming up again, telling me it doesn’t matter anymore. It doesn’t matter because you’re just going to die. To be happy, is a selfish endeavor; it doesn’t matter. You’re just going to die. I don’t like being in that place, because I already know how meaningless life is when you’re there. I’ve been there, done that, and I was like a zombie. If you’ve never lived in that place before, then it might be hard to comprehend, but it is real. I have to face the darkness to see the light, that is how my brain operates. I am seeing the darkness again, and I guess I’m looking for the light. I don’t know what it means not to run from death. Here, right now, at this very moment, for me, I think it means facing it and saying, “Fine, you’re going to win. So, I’m running in this direction instead.”