They say that, when you’re about to die, that it’s your life that flashes before your eyes. And that makes sense, – it works to have a nice, blink-of-the-eye summary of everything up to that point. It’s neat, it’s tidy, a little bit poetic. But it’s not true.
I mean there is something there, glimpsed in the interval between life and death, but it’s not that. It’s not your life flashing before your eyes. It’s you. Screaming. It’s a medley, a blizzard, a storm of thoughts scrambling over one another, crashing and tearing at one another, raking with their hands and their teeth and pounding with the raw meat of their fists. Some telling you that’s it, you’re fucked. Gone. Dead. Others aware that you didn’t lock the back door, others wondering who’ll walk the dogs from now on and others just a thrum, a beat, haemorrhaging away in your subconscious somewhere.
All of them are, in their own unique way, trying to grasp the concept of Oblivion. To tackle complete and utter empty mere moments before it is thrust upon them. Because, when else are you going to try it, really? No one has the time to sit and think about life like that, about what might come after- you’re too busy feeding the cat or cycling to work or cleaning out the fridge. All that time, all that mental space, filled remorselessly up by nothing, by detritus.
Then, one day you’re done. A cat under a freight train, a deer in the headlights of a speeding car, the meat-sack at the end of someone’s gun. That’s when you realise you’re not ready. You’ve turned up to the final exam without having studied the course, you’ve declared war on Russia in swimming trunks and a tank top. You’ve screwed it up.
You’ve screwed it up and your mind is desperately, hurriedly trying to ram a lifetime’s worth of philosophy into a heartbeat, into the fraction of a fraction of a second it takes before it all suddenly stops. And in that time you realise you don’t want to leave it all behind, you don’t want to stop hearing music, you don’t want to stop drinking tea, staying up all night reading, waking up early to gulp down the spring air. You realise you like life, and that, whatever comes afterwards you’re not ready for. That everything, all of it, this whole process of being alive is unrelentingly, unceasingly, utterly sublime.
Which is a shame, because by this point, you’re very, very dead.