Drowning

Imagine you're on a cruise ship in the middle of the Pacific ocean. Suddenly, you're thrown overboard and you're stranded, alone, swimming in the middle of absolutely nowhere. No land near enough to swim to, no one coming to rescue you, and waves that are too strong for you to just float on your back. You have to kick and fight to stay above the surface and breathe. But you know that you're running out of energy. You know that you're going to sink. You can't fool yourself into thinking that there's going to be any happy ending for you. But you struggle to stay above the water anyway.

Why?

Maybe the instinct to survive is too strong for you to just give up easily. Maybe you just need a little extra time before you're fully comfortable with the inevitable. Maybe you want to do all that you can to leave that window of time open just a little longer for some impossible miracle to swoop in and save you.

But you know it won't do any good. Like a person covered in flames, flailing around pointlessly before dying because there's nothing else to do. Or a person cursing at a bear while being eaten by that same bear. Or a person running from a sniper and dying exhausted.

Like a broke man spending his last dollar on a lottery ticket instead of a warm meal.

I think that when we're not yet comfortable with death, we fear it. But when we've become comfortable with our death, but are still too attached to the idea of being alive, we meet it with stubborn indignation. And that indignation makes us do undignified, pointless things.

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This hits a deep, dark chord with me. Most of the time I am a happy person, capable of pushing myself onward and upward along whatever tract I happen to be pursuing at the time. However, sometimes I take myself by surprise, and know that it is all in vain.

At times I stop, like one might stop for a brief second too long in the path of an oncoming car, and fight off a panicky feeling in the depths of my chest that seems to shout "Why?." Why bother getting out of the way? If the point of life is for it to end, why prolong that inevitable last breath? It could be said that from the moment we are self-aware and cognizant of the fact that death hovers above us, we are constantly evading it.

Therefore, for me it is always a struggle to draw that line between "being attached to being alive" and being able to face death with a sense of calm dignity. Primarily, this is because barring a definite calamity, such as finding oneself stuck alone in the middle of the ocean, death rarely rears his head with such a panoramic view. The thing that keeps humans kicking as long and hard -- and perhaps, with a definite indignity and pointlessness -- is that we humans tend to cling to the idea we have labeled "hope." For us, there is always a "maybe" and a "what if?"

Perhaps it is not intentional indignity, and perhaps it is complete and utterly self-aware futility, that motivates us to struggle that extra second, minute, hour, month, or year... Perhaps we ARE engaged in nothing but denial, an endorphin and adrenaline-laden smile adorning our hazy-eyed faces. Perhaps we ARE staring death down as he shoulders his scythe with a gleam in his unwavering stare. However, as long as there is a story, a rumor, a whisper on the wind, of someone or anyone claiming a few extra minutes here or there or "that one time," facing death with pointless indignation seems to apply not only to humans, but to a vast array of non-human animals whose biology would never allow them to simply give up in the face of life-threatening adversity.

Are we comfortable with death? For the majority of us, no, and we never will be -- even 6 feet under. Should we be able to recognize our inevitable end and let out a calm breath when it arrives? No doubt it would be an ideal. The problem, I feel, for the lot of us is that death doesn't come in black and white -- it is always a grey cloud on the horizon rather than a bottomless pit or a landless sea. When the storm comes, it is hard for us to tell if we are the intended victim. Therefore, until that last electrifying, numbing jolt of adrenaline and eventual darkness in our eyes, we never consider our acts to be undignified or pointless, because, as faulty as the logic or biological urge may be, we still cling to that thing we humans call "hope".

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Here we go again... I thought I had this fixed...

I feel like I'm drowning in millions of pieces, each shard connected to a string tied around someone different, but no one wants to pull me in. No one will save me, no one thinks I'm a "catch."

My depression may sound like yours, or not, hell, we all feel this way sometimes.

Depression is practically cultivated in some places.

I hate the way my brain works.