Up and down
Left and right
I wrote this poem in September of 2017. It was the first poem I had written in about 15 years. I had gone through a long stretch of really good energy and positivity, but it was coming to an end. I had taken on the task of going back to school, working two jobs and volunteering 10 hours a week. I was sleeping maybe 2–3 hours a day and my body and mind had had enough. My depression was back.
This is not my best work, or even good I would argue. But it sparked something in me and started me on the path that I’m walking now. I’m revisiting it now because I’ve drifted back to that place again. I wanted to read my thoughts the last time this happened, to compare the feelings and work out the differences. Thank you for reading.
My depression snuck up on me today
An old friend I hadn’t seen in a while.
He asked how I had been, I said great.
You see, I had finally found a way out,
A way to not be around him anymore.
He used to be ok, I would tolerate him.
He was company, filling a void of conversation and companionship.
Slowly, I realized there was more,
Other conversations that needed to be had,
Other connections I was missing out on
Because I experienced only him every day.
Yet here he was, invading my space again.
I know how this ends.
I know that he’ll hang around for a few days
Maybe a couple weeks
Hopefully no longer than a month
And then I’ll kick him out
Tired of his bullshit.
But in the meantime, I’ll sit
I’ll try to push him out but fail.
Not because I don’t have the strength,
But because in some small way,
I don’t want him to leave.
I rearranged my apartment this week in a burst of spring cleaning initiative and my general unease with stagnation. I’ve lived in this apartment for 10 months, but my mind believes it to be longer. I’m a nomad at heart.
I knew when I began shifting furniture that I wanted to invite more creativity into the space. After all, my writing place was in the kitchen. I have four rooms in my apartment: the bedroom, the bathroom, the living room, and the kitchen, with a small dining space attached.
The small dining space was my writing space. It was faced toward the wall, artificial light pouring down on me, and a mound of dirty dishes in the background. It was a muse black hole, but it’s where I was getting my writing done.
So where was I going to move my writing space? I wanted to see nature, so I knew it should be at one of my windows. I had four eligible windows in my space. One overlooks my apartments parking space, and two others face the parking lot of the complex next door. Facing the busy street it was then.
At first, I loved it. It was the window with the best light, the sun doesn’t set on this side of the building, which meant I won’t be blinded by it. But as my view expanded, The cars became a distraction. As I said, it’s a fairly busy street. And it’s a direct route to the busiest bar area in the city, so even at night, there are constantly cars going back and forth below my perch.
This surely couldn’t work out. I couldn’t focus on my writing with all the traffic constantly pulling my attention away. But my view expanded one more time. To just beyond the window sill with the perfect lighting, beyond the street and sidewalks below with the bustling vehicles. In that picture above, if you look past the black metal fence and the trees, is the cemetery.
When I first moved to this apartment, the idea of living across from a cemetery didn’t bother me. Cemeteries have never been the place of spooky lore and undead for me, so I was content. However, I didn’t know that it would inspire me so much. And reawaken my muse.
The thing that helped spark that rebirth was the constant reminder of the inevitable: death. It’s coming for everyone, and we have to make the most of our opportunities. We can’t wait to make moves because someday, there won’t be any moves to make.
I want to start that novel, that podcast and take care of myself now. Regret is poison, but you don’t experience it until it’s too late. Make sure it isn’t too late.
Warning: This post talks about suicidal thoughts and death.
“I’m thinking about death
What if this plane goes down?
That would be okay, you know, I had a good run
I wonder if a lot of people would come to my funeral
Maybe my fans would do something special
Maybe they’d cry and maybe it’d be in the newspaper
Yeah, I think I’d get in the Detroit News
Probably not the New York Times
People’ll probably like my music more when I die
‘Cause they’ll know no more is coming
You see, people love stories with endings
Right now, I’m just sort of a story that’s dragging on slowly
Page by page, year by year
But people want an ending, they want a crash
They want a ear in the fucking mail
But I don’t have one
All I have is another lousy poem
And the knowledge that I’ll probably die somewhere confused and decrepit in a nursing home
I don’t think this plane’s gonna crash”
This section of lyrics is from a song called “I’m Thinking About Horses”. It’s less a song and more a spoken word poem, but anyway. The whole piece has been a catalyst in me thinking more closely about how I live my life. If you haven’t heard the whole thing, you should listen to it. It’s brilliant.
It’s helped me be more conscious about what I’m thinking about in the moment. And I’m starting to realize that I think about death a lot. Not in an overt way, or a way in which is harmful, but more as a curiosity.
As a kid, I was probably unhealthily scared of death. For no reason really, it just was what I did at night, trying to fall asleep. If any therapists want to dissect that for me, I’m all ears.
Anyway, in my early 20s, when everything spiraled in my life, I stopped giving a fuck. There was only one night where I ever really thought about suicide, my 21st birthday, but otherwise, it was just a dull, numb feeling. A feeling of not caring if it all ended.
And since then, my relationship with death has changed drastically. I’ve gotten better mentally, but I do still think about death a lot. No longer in an anticipatory way, or in a way that I am apathetic to. Now, I think about death as intriguing.
An example: Yesterday I was driving on the expressway and passed a car on the side of the road. It was wrecked and the engine had clearly caught fire and flamed the car out. The contents of the trunk were on the side of the road, so I assumed the people in the car had successfully gotten out okay.
But my mind jumped to the alternative. What if I had been in that car? What if the seatbelt had gotten smashed and I couldn’t get out? Then my mind went to self-immolation. Self-immolation is the act of setting oneself on fire. It’s been used throughout history as an act of protest.
It’s astonishing to me that someone could be on fire, dying, and be completely calm and generally immobile. That level of acceptance is intriguing to me. It’s also something that I would imagine would occur when one would be in the fictional car scenario from before. My mind is a curiosity all its own.
There are many other small moments through the course of the day that will open my mind up to death. Again, always from a sense of wonder more than anything else. And I wonder if I’m the only one.
Do we all have these thoughts, and we only don’t talk about them because it’s not a cultural norm? Or is my mind wired differently, always searching for more understanding or opportunities to learn about anything, including the end?
Either way, I’m comfortable with my thoughts. They aren’t dangerous or even negative. I’m a constant learner, even about the worst aspects of the world around us.