I don’t think we’re scared of death. I think we’re scared of life – what it is and isn’t.
I’m about to be the guy that yells about his dream and hopes it hits everyone just like it hit him. So I’m sorry but I had a dream and I got killed in it. Shot through the heart. I don’t usually yell about dreams but I think this is one that a lot of people will be able to identify with and maybe even see something cool in.
Maybe I’m succumbing to the narrative fallacy. Maybe I’m enjoying layering stories on story-less events. That’s fine – signs we fabricate are still signs. A lot of cool stuff has been made by people tricking themselves.
Okay – it’s time to turn on the soft blur and slight echo: welcome to Dream Town!
I’m walking out of the unfamiliar theater as the credits roll for The Man With The Iron Fists [a film I've never seen]. I wasn’t the last to walk out of the theater but the lobby is empty as I get into it. There’s a circular desk in the middle of the room.
I notice the desk and walk towards the exit when a big guy with a huge ass revolver walks in. I stop walking as his eyes meet mine. There’s no malice or anything, but I have the feeling the dude wants to kill me. He starts to walk towards me again. For some reason I jump behind the circular counter.
The guy approaches and places the big ass revolver on the counter about fifteen feet away from me. Then he walks to form an equilateral triangle with me and his gun. There’s still no malice in his eyes but I also know he wants to kill me.
After a pause he draws out a smaller pistol (Glock 40?). At this point I know he’s going to shoot me but I don’t run for the gun. “If I go for the gun then he’s going to shoot me for sure, maybe I can find some human compassion in him.” I think as I look at his eyes.
He slowly raises the pistol and shoots me in the shoulder. The force of the shot knocks me on the ground towards the other gun. I look up at the revolver – now less than 10 feet away – and consider crawling over to it to kill the guy.
I look over and see him again. “No, he’ll kill me for SURE if I try to grab the gun. I’m on the floor, it’ll be impossible for me to get there before he gets another shot off.” So once again, I try to locate some compassion behind his stoic eyes.
He walks toward me. I’m following him this whole time with my eyes. “Shit, I should go for the gun.” But I don’t.
He reaches the revolver and slowly lifts it. Then, just as slowly, points it at me. “I knew it” I thought. Then I tried to convince myself, “I know I can find mercy in him.” I didn’t believe myself, of course.
He shoots me in the heart. “I knew it” I thought as the blood spilled out of me.
My vision went to black. I felt all my senses flowing out of my body. Not being numbed or anything like that but leaving. Then once the senses were almost gone experience itself began seeping into the dreamworld around my body.
As experience became faint I had an urge to grab a hold of it. Of course it worked as well as trying to grab onto water with your hand, the flow isn’t bothered a bit but your grasping. So it forced me into a feeling of peace with experience-lessness.
Experience itself became fainter and fainter until it was just about zero. The moment before I saw Nothing as it is I woke up.
I was laying in my bed feeling good about how comfortable I was with death. That was another example to support my idea that in the moment you are guaranteed immediate death then you no longer have the capacity to do anything but welcome it in. I don’t mean in a moment that you are almost certain you are going to die – I’m talking about the times of knowing that death is right in front of you.
“I could have killed him first!” Oh shit. If I wasn’t scared of death, then why was I being such a pussy? Why did I not run to the gun and shoot the fuck in the face. I knew he was going to kill me! I waited for him to kill me even when I knew there was nothing to be saved.
Turns out we’re scared of life. We’re scared that we’re doing it wrong or that it is supposed to be something “fuller” or that Snooki or the Biebs have the secrets and they’re not sharing them with us.
We think we fear death because we fear the cessation of life. That’s not even correct though because imagine yourself immortal. You would not want this human experience for millions of years. If you had forever to live then what would drive you to do anything?
What we really fear is life as it is, right now. We are petrified of the present moment. That’s why our mind is constantly trying to find things in the future or past. You have to be the bravest person in the world to recognize this moment right now for everything that it is and isn’t. It’s not anything besides what is here right now – and that means that it will always be something besides any ideal created by thoughts flying around in the head pretending they are practicing rational activities.
The most courageous person is the one that can see their life exactly where they are and not run from it.
Not running is not the same as inaction.
Look at my dream – I knew that fucker was going to shoot me. Acceptance of getting shot is not the acceptance we’re looking at. If I was being a courageous Kyle I would have seen the situation for what it was: my only chance at survival is making a go for the gun and killing him first. By staying and trying to find faith in the lie I created (I could bring out compassion in him) I was hiding from the truth of the situation.
Our “rational” mind that parses together bits of “logic” is often the source of our cowardice of Now. It’s the neurotic flow of thoughts that interrupts the true learning that takes place in “thoughtless” experience. Of course this can be flipped on it’s head – those who meditate to run from thoughts haven’t escaped the coward’s mind.
Courage isn’t hiding behind a clear mind. In fact, that clear mind follows courage wherever it’s found – and the only place it ever can be is this, right here, right now.