All WoMen Must (Eventually) Die
In college, I was occasionally prone to panic attacks.
Whether it was due to imposing deadlines or self-imposed standards of perfection, I occasionally found myself with a quickening heart rate and an ominous tightening in my chest. The attacks do not last for long, but I am incredibly grateful for their passing. Thankfully, they are by no means frequent, but I certainly have to consider my surroundings and my situation when they occur. I might say to myself, “Okay, obviously I need to slow down. How can I take better care of myself?”
Except, when I found myself alone last night in the throes of one, I had no answers.
Embarrassingly enough, it was brought on by Game of Thrones. It was actually catalyzed by all of the death on last night’s episode (which is in every episode, I know).
Now, I’m not shy about being a sensitive soul. I often experience a cute overload just by seeing a few ducklings cross the road. My thin skin is then combined with the fact that HBO has enough money to render every decapitation in stunning detail, which creates a heady (pun intended) combination. So, realistic gore mixed in with a couple of heroic deeds of valor was enough to set my heart soaring… and beating rapidly. However, there was something underlying the violence for me: the fact that these people had literally and figuratively run out of time. It’s a television show, I get it, but it does not mean that some grain of truth was not hidden among all of that fighting.
Why do we waste our time on so many figurative and literal battles in our lives? Why do we make excuses for not pursuing our dreams with fervor? Do we really believe that we will have enough time, or are we masters of delusion and disguise about our own mortality? Why do we have a debilitating fear of death? Is it because we are afraid that our legacy and achievements will not be enough to outlast us?
And it’s possible that I would have never had a panic attack (or this much insight) if it weren’t for a completely separate, but absolutely related, event that occurred over the weekend.
Coincidences are Convenient Excuses
My boyfriend and I were waiting patiently for the train after a late night of celebrating a friend’s birthday. A man approached us where we sat. I could feel my boyfriend tense up, and I felt myself nurture a small seed of fear. I personally blame the news for this gut reaction, but that is an entirely different blogpost. The man opened his dialogue fairly harmlessly:
“Are you two dating?”
Now, this could have been dangerous if we were brother and sister, but we aren’t. We replied that, yes, we were dating, and had been for the last 9 years. He then asked the inevitable question that we are always asked: “Where’s the ring?”
We had to politely explain, as we do to our friends and family as well as strangers, that we met in high school, and we simply do not have the money to settle down at the moment. However, the man, while intoxicated but not belligerently so, began to impress upon us the importance of having someone you love by your side. He explained that he was gay and that he had been married to someone that simply encouraged him to settle down. After several years, they got a divorce, and he now realized that the marriage had been born out of necessity, not out of true love. He then explained:
“What if one of you dies tomorrow? Gets hit by a car? What then?”
Now, I’m not trying to suggest that this scenario hasn’t crossed my mind. I felt like saying to the man, “Well, sir, I thought you were a serial killer up until a few minutes ago, so I’m not going to lie, that’s a possibility.” But who hasn’t thought about their significant other dying suddenly due to some tragic accident (or something trivial, like forgetting to take the trash out just one too many times)? And I’m certainly not saying that this man was putting some revolutionary concept to us in a poetic way. I’m simply saying that coincidences are convenient excuses for truths about life that you don’t want to face. I’m saying, this man had a message: live your life at all costs. We were supposed to hear it, and now, so are you.
Although he was drunk and would probably forget meeting us that night, he gave us a gift. He imparted his own life’s truth to complete strangers, in the hopes that his own experience would not have been a stagnant mistake but a learning opportunity for someone else.
Or. He was just drunk and wanted to talk.
I get it. I’m getting a bit sappy here. But we both left on good terms. I never asked for his name, and he didn’t know ours. We boarded two different cars, and he smiled at us until he got on the train. And we smiled all of the way home to ourselves. Happy to be, but also happy to be together. We had a mutual understanding of our limited time here on earth, the man and us, and my boyfriend and I were happy that a complete stranger recognized our relationship for what it was: special.
So, I received a very friendly reminder to live my life this weekend and be grateful for what I have. I had to experience a panic attack for the event to really sink in, but I have accepted it now. I hope you receive a similar message from this blog without the unfortunate side effects. But if you didn’t, then at least you got up a heads-up for the latest Game of Thrones episode. Seriously. It’s brutal.