Again we leave,
Again we die,
We do not forsake others,
We forsake ourselves.
Harvard may be good, but preparing to go to Harvard, with the corresponding necessity of leaving where I am, is a different story. Hope and dread are mixed into this weird fateful resignation that is simultaneously misplaced, adrift, and lost. It’s as if the world has become a knot—how can I untie and unentangle the world?
We die many times, and at least once each time we leave a place. Thus, we can perhaps say that I’m preparing for my own funeral. And how difficult this is. It might be better to just drop dead straight with no foreboding—at least then the whole messy issue of how to take care of my dead self is left to others. The problem, however, with not properly dying is that I won’t actually die, and zombie-Warren, this Frankenstein, made of fragments of the past, will haunt future Warren, possibly forever. You know the famous Gatsby line of “So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past.”? I don’t want to drown in the past.
But how? The problem with this preparation-cum-suicide is that I have to be the one dying, and therefore I am the one who has to kill. I have to confront myself, and no technology has been invented (or will be invented) to do it for me. Adding this onto the fact of endless intricacies of the self, how questions only proliferate the more I look in, and the whole mortuary business becomes extremely difficult. Nor do talking with others work, since I, hoping that my friends can help share some of my burden, but only found that the more I talk about my issues, the more questions emerge, and less answered. Perhaps, the biggest problem about the past is that it’s a shithole, a place that contains all the stupid and ignorant and immature decisions we’ve made, by our past self who’s unfortunately just not a very likable human being. Perhaps, the biggest problem about the past is that each past moment also has a past, and within each of them is already all the decisions we haven’t made, all the paths we’ve not pursued, and all our cowardice and lost opportunities. But the past already has too many Perhaps, so I’ll refrain from adding more in case it overpopulates.
To die fully is to come to terms with that shithole we call the past. It’s not easy. It’s harder than anything I’ve done. But I won’t choose to not do it, and I urge you to try it out. There’s a tremendous joy through the pain of self-discovery, the joy when your interrogations of the past illuminates ambiguities in the present, ambiguities that are only there because you haven’t examined them carefully enough.
So, go into your past, find those weird half-dead-half-alive stuff that are haunting and encaging you, and spend some time—perhaps a lot of time—cleaning them up. You’ll probably find something surprising (though I don’t guarantee that it’ll be a good surprise), and you won’t regret it when you die.
(This short essay is a desperate substitute for one on Love that I wanted to write. Worked the entire day on it only to watch the thing’s complexity spiral out of control and grow impossible to finish. [Well, at least you now know what issues I’m working through for my funeral!].)