Sometimes I feel like my creative edge is slipping away and that I’m losing my ability to do something that has always come naturally to me. I’m not sure if it’s the cocktail of medications I take in the run of a day for sleep, mania, and pain from my recent surgery, but for the first time in my life I find myself struggling with my own words. I know every writer experiences a creative block from time to time, but I wonder if it’s to the extent that I experience it. This is one of the reasons why I decided not to pursue a future in journalism many years ago, because I cannot write under pressure and I don’t do deadlines. Sometimes I have wonderful ideas and topics I want to talk to you all about but I don’t share them because I struggle with putting it down into words the way so many people like me to. Sometimes I don’t want to dazzle you with witty topics and poetic sentence structures. Sometimes I just want to say what I feel. So maybe this will be more raw and personal than some of you might be used to expecting from me, but it is what it is. If you’re expecting witty banter, you might as well click away and return another day. It’s late and my wheels spin the fastest after midnight and putting the breaks on right now isn’t an option.
I have never been phased by death. I have been saddened by the loss of lives close to me, sure, but it doesn’t seem to rip me in half the way it does to others. Instead of going through the intense grieving process that others go through, I begin to dwell on the what-if’s of my own demise. Every now and again I am reminded of the looming possibility that I could be snuffed out of thin air at any time and it troubles me to think about the fact that I have never touched a human life the way many have touched mine. It makes me feel incredibly sad to think that I will not leave a footprint in this world after I am gone. I guess this is why I’m a writer, because I feel like some day in a hundred years, someone might find my words and know I once existed. I’ve vowed since I was a kid that I am going to do something huge one day that’s going to move people; which I’ve tried to do through writing and being an activist, but it’s all just an exercise in futility. The reality is this; I will die someday and when the people in my life who cared enough to grieve my death pass away as well, evidence of my existence will be gone. We are the stars of our own lives and we reserve the right to think our deaths should be the biggest fuckin’ tragedy the world has ever seen – alas, it is not.
It’s not the unknown of the afterlife that bothers me, it’s the legacy I won’t be leaving behind.
So I go through this thought process every once in a while when death taps me on the shoulder and I’m reminded that my death will touch a few lives briefly and then everyone will forget that I had breathed their air and walked their streets. No one will know that I’ve made-out on every bench in Pictou County, that I once threw up off the George Street bridge, that I loved music and dogs and that I tried really hard to light a fire under the ass of everyone I met to try to get them motivated to care about things I considered to be important. Maybe in a hundred years someone will find an old newspaper clipping that shows that I once created a Facebook group and got 25,000 people to join so my friend would have to get another man’s face tattooed on him, or that I once stood on stage with a rock band in front of 110,000 people for human rights, or maybe they will find evidence of my blog and other publications I’ve written for and they’ll say “Wow, she was one preachy, self-righteous bitch.” And that’s it. My legacy. Done like dinner.
Yes, I have already come to terms with all of this, and yet I continue to plot and scheme of ways to be remembered when I am gone.
So I have decided that I need to spend more time perfecting the time I have here on earth rather than spend my time trying to give people reasons to remember me. I have spent most of my adult life trying to paint myself in a certain light to earn respect from others. I’ve always tried to present myself as fearless and strong; indeed I am, in many ways. I’ve been brave in the respect that I don’t fear the consequences of speaking my mind or expressing my opinions, no matter how taboo they are considered to be. I’ve been brave in the respect that I never worry about being in the minority. I’ve been brave that I have stood up to monsters on behalf of the underdog. I have not been fearless in any other aspect of my life; with love, with friendships, or with family. It has only been in the past few months that I have been reflecting on my own life and realizing that maybe somewhere along the way of trying to establish myself as some type of untouchable bad-ass, I may have gotten severely off track.
Somewhere in this process I start thinking about what friendship, love and forgiveness mean and I start to feel that I have failed miserably at each of them.To say that I have been through some traumatic experiences in my life would be an understatement of epic proportions. And yet I persist as if they never happened, but carry the burden with me to be rolled around my head before I go to sleep every night. As a consequence, I will be the first to admit that my personal relationships suffer greatly. I don’t confront my problems, I shove them aside and move on. I’ve come to view everyone as replaceable. In reality, I do not speak to 90 per cent of my family and I haven’t for years. One of my best friends is getting married and I will not be there because it is easier to replace her than to make amends. I saved someone’s life when I arrived on the scene of a suicide attempt that had almost been successful; and instead of forgiving them, I held a grudge and let it further damage my relationship with them. I love people who I am unsure if they love me back because I can’t talk about feelings because I’d rather not know than deal with the pain and humiliation I would feel for myself if they didn’t. It’s as if I go through my path in life shoving everyone aside who stands in my way or makes me stop to think for a moment that maybe I might be going about things the wrong way because I am afraid of being wronged, hurt, or disappointed. I do this while thinking I’m more clever than those who do get hurt because I avoid these situations to begin with.
The only thing worth doing is making the best of my time on the ground with the people I share it with and doing it fearlessly. After you’ve burned all of your bridges and shut the important people out of your life, what will you leave behind when you die? What will happen in twenty or thirty years when you wake up, after enjoying some small amount of successes in attempting at immortalizing your legacy, you realize you’re a has-been with the bitterness level of an emotionally void spinster. Who would be the failure then, I wonder?
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