Death of Self
It was the Friday before Christmas, and I remember that my legs went first. One moment, I was capable of standing up; next, I wasn’t, and I was slowly but haphazardly bringing my body to the floor.
From there, I began to lose sensation in my hands. This cool notion of nothingness began to creep up my hands and into my arms. It called me to lie down, to relax, to let go. And it was the only thing that made any sense, so I lied down, relaxed, and I let go.
That nothing-sense moved inward; it was cool but not cold, no thing but not nothing. As it made its way to my chest, I noticed how odd this all felt. I was functionally paralyzed—I couldn’t move my legs and I couldn’t move my arms. But that didn’t scare me; it felt right. In some real, visceral way “I” was receding. I felt my self waning like a flame starving of oxygen. I was flickering, and steadily and slowly I was going out.
And in full honesty, it didn’t feel bad and it didn’t feel scary. It simply felt; it simply was. Nothing anywhere else made any sense whatsoever. Nothing anywhere else felt right. Nothing anywhere was. It was all a facade; some shadow somehow colored to feign reality to those too stuck believing colors were all it took to be real, too naïve to ask if the image had depth. And so this shadow that I could sense in my chest felt right because it knew it was a shadow and presented itself as such. It was honest, and that wasn’t bad and that wasn’t scary.
Until that flame, which for so long I had understood to be “me”, went out, and all that was left was the shadow and its cool darkness. And then I was scared. Because then I didn’t exist, except there I was, frightened by the notion that “I” no longer existed. And this didn’t make sense, and I was scared. And I lay on that floor swimming in that nothingness for some amount of time, I know not how long. And I truly felt I had just experienced my own death. But not the simple death of my body; I so obviously hadn’t died like that. No, I had experienced the deeper death of my self. And it was odd. Odd in ways that I will never be able to capture in words. That time, whatever all it was, is bound up in me.
And then, quite as quickly as my legs went, I no longer felt dead. The flame was still gone, but I had a self. It was small and simple and bare; and it wasn’t a flame. It was this room where the flame had burned, this open barren room. And it was me, and there was nothing left within it. And so I opened the door, and I got on my feet, and I walked out.