Contemplating Dying: My Apologies to Natalie Goldberg, For I Found Myself Wanting Death

A Note to Readers: The blog entry below is a response to Natalie Goldberg’s writing prompt “Die” taken from Old Friend from Far Away:The Practice of Writing Memoir.  Improving Writing students were rquired to spend 10 minutes of non-stop writing in reponse to a prompt of their choice; I blogged with them. After class, students were required to re-read their freewrites–to thoughtfully examine their content–and then to rewrite (or type) their responses in a blog.  The link below provides readers my 10-minute in-class freewrite. The blog that follows became something much different.  

10-Minute Freewrite on Goldberg’s “Die” 030113

Lately, I have not been afraid to die.  As a matter of fact, last night I invited death into my bedroom–to take me while I was asleep.  I mighta even begged it to.  That way, I wouldn’t be in pain.  There’d be no mess.  No theatrics.  My dogs would be left alone, however.  Having to pee.  Wanting to go outside.  Wanting me to greet them with my usual kisses on their foreheads. How would they know that I would never come down the steps to relieve them? To greet them?  To give them kisses all over their faces? Would they miss me?  Would my body quickly decay in the 79 degrees of heat that warms my living space? Would my neighbors eventually smell me–or hear the dogs barking–as I suspect they eventually would.  Would the maintenance man enter my home and discover my dead body–sans pajama bottoms–in my bed?  Would he reach for my cell phone to call for help and find, it, too, is dead.  (Because the only two people in my life who call me on a daily basis has called me incessantly, thus killing the battery.) My mother wouldn’t even know I am dead.  She only calls every now and then, which doesn’t bother me–really.  But maybe my Ruzzle friends and my Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram friends would realize my failure to post–to reach out into cyberspace in search of a connected space–and realize I’ve been disconnected.  Maybe they will connect with each other in trying to reconnect with me and realize I am missing.  How long would I lay there, dead, before the world notices I have left it?

Last night I wanted to die cause I found myself reattached to memories that keep me in static places.  Tibetan Buddhist nun Pema Chödrön calls it “stuckness.”  She says our mind has the tendency to stay stuck in dis-ease that mindfulness practices, like loving meditation, can free our minds from.  But, last night I found myself stuck on a memory that cripples me, and I wanted to die–because death is a freedom that requires no practice.

I just wanted to be over it already.  To forget her.  To not feel her.  Miss her.  Want her.  To not be reminded of every single event that made me feel worthless, insecure, and empty.  How can one person have so much power over another’s selfworth?  How could I have given her so much of that power?  I wanted to die last night cause I wanted to stop remembering.  For, remembering sticks me up and keeps me in a stuckness; and I feel so uneasy.  I imagine that stuckness looks like Jocko Graves, who spent hours in cold winter air waiting for General George Washington, until he froze; he–stuck, upright, holding a got damn horse and a lantern.  His dying was his freedom–freed from slavery, oppression, and dehumanization.  And now, centuries later, Jocko’s more alive standing erect as a statue dorning white folks’ lawns then he was a black boy living in America.  Will she remember me like that when I die?  Will the paintings, poems, and postcards I gifted her be the memorabilia that makes me more alive to her when I am dead than I am right now as a living, breathing human being?

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