First Words

 

Where does your courage come from?

That reason that halts you…

But that thunderous pounding of your heart…

It echoes through the soul,

Electrifying every recognizable symptom of fear,

It’s the screaming of survival…

That says, go forward and follow your heart;

Go on, but hasten each step

 

 

This untitled poem was written some ago and I cannot recall the circumstances that surround it. I can tell you what I was feeling; this ache of pushing forward, putting myself out against the world, but having some force holding me back that seemed impossible to escape but eventually revealed itself to me self-imposed… and it was this realization that time is so finite for our short lives that some part of the inner workings seemed to come alive and it was as if I had gained a new perspective on having an instinct to live.

When I was young, and in the thick of childhood’s hardships, I remember the first time I had thought of death and what it might mean. My youthful mind had the hardest time truly digesting the concept, I couldn’t fathom the world being active without my being a part of it or at least expecting a part in it (to wake up from the sleep). When my godfather killed himself, it made me wonder what death had to offer that made him prefer it -everyone was saying it was to be avoided at all costs, and yet he chose it, that my little growing brain could not understand.

Even when I had first enlisted in the Army, in 2010, and undergone basic combat training… the idea of death and what it might mean seemed too much to unpack. All I knew then is that I would run to it if instructed, I would enter that unknown because a command had told me to, and because some peculiar inner calling of mine told me I had to listen. Death did not come to me while I deployed, not the first nor second time, but it did become a more increasingly powerful concept in my mind.

Worse so, it became a nomination of choice at some point… It became an option, and that is when it became dangerous. What prevented me from not making that decision, time and time again, was the not-knowing. I was a spontaneous decision maker, sure, but I could not bring myself to chose such a final decision without considering what that choice really meant in terms of consequence. It is difficult to describe that feeling that occurs when you try really hard to picture what death can be like, to imagine the world carrying on without your presence of being… it brought the oddest feeling of discomfort to me where my heart would race, it would suddenly become difficult to breathe, and my muscles would tense up all at once. It was a miniature moment of paralysis-induced my anxiety, and it could hit me anytime of the day, anywhere.

Years would go by before that feeling would settle within me. Yes, it is still there if I go looking for it, but I often choose not to engage in it. In this practice, the trial of being considerate of death yet not dwelling into it, led me to the other menace of mortality – Time.

Time befuddled me and seemed to speed up even more when I would think about it, like it were a cruel joke to be played on another toy of the universe. However, this shift in thought, moving from the importance of death to the significance of time, this changed my whole life. Rather that linger on the inevitable, I could focus on the malleable properties that time had to offer; I (for the most part) can not chose when or where I die nor may I speculate what may derive from it (be it nothing or something, or within the “or” itself), but I can choose my time and what comes from it. I can choose my time, even though Time, the joker it is, knows I will be given so little of it.

 

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