Death, Dickinson, and Daddy Issues

Because I could not stop for Death — he kindly stopped for me — The Carriage held but just Ourselves — And Immortality.

EMILY DICKINSON

So this week I turned 26, and while my mother did not receive a goat or cow or horse in exchange for my hand in marriage, I can fairly say that it’s been a rather productive week – and I believe that productivity is, in part, due to a question I asked myself and a question I would like to ask you all (my fearless readers) now.

At what age did you stop chasing death, only to realize you had to start running from him?

I was 14, His Name is Death, and I could have loved him but I didn’t

I was 14 when I met death, but it wasn’t until I was 18 that I stopped chasing him.

I don’t remember the exact day of course because it wasn’t a stand out performance kind of day. There was no epiphany that lead me to want to stop dying inside and get to living – I guess I just finally started to find moments where living was less of something I had to do for others and turned into something I got to do for me.

That said, if I had to pick a moment it was probably around June of 2014 – I had just graduated high school and I was in Florida (of all places) on the back of a 4 wheeler, clinging to my best friend, drinking bud light, caked in mud and getting bitten by fire ants. And admission of underage drinking aside, I guess it was just a moment where the scales tipped for me. Where living felt lighter and more free than dying.

Anyway, So yeah I was 18, which I suppose is fitting, because most people chasing death are the ones who think that they have the power to escape it – but by the time we become adults with the freedom and aggression and resilience to fight the good fight — well I guess that’s when we all usually and finally realize that we cannot out run death, but we can certainly make it harder for him to keep up.

When it comes to Death, I look to Dickinson

Emily Dickinson was a prolific writer but she was also an outcast for much of her life. Mostly because her vision and her ideals existed far outside the limitations of her time. AKA she was super wacky.

Now, while I certainly cannot compare my writing chops to Emily’s I could argue that my friends and I have a similar strangeness to us. Why? You may ask. Well, because like young Emily Dickinson – Death is a popular topic of conversation between one of my friends and I. And before you call a therapist, please allow me to explain.

For many, death is a frightening topic because we, as humans fear the unknown, I mean look at all the time spent creating narratives to explain what we can’t and know what we may never know.

ANYWAY – I find it strange that in a world that mostly clings to a fear of uncertainty — the thing we fear the most is inherently certain and unarguably unavoidable.

three things cannot long stay hidden, the sun, the moon, and the truth

TEEN WOLF

Truthfully, death doesn’t scare me because I used to chase him before he thought to chase me. I mean, don’t get me wrong, he did scare me at one point, but, in most ways I am more afraid of what happens to the ones I love after I am gone – but in terms of whatever the universe has in store after I am, I’m not all that concerned. Which again, is why I believe that Emily Dickinson’s poems always resonated with me – because like her and like Wordsworth, I realize that there are more paths to immortality than those that have to do with escaping and avoiding death.

His name was Death, hers Dickinson, but in their love story — everyone just blames the Daddy Issues

I think we all reach a certain point in our lives where we become desensitized to loss – and don’t get me wrong, it doesn’t stop the hurt, but it does – slowly – begin to hurt a bit less.

We begin to fear it a bit less. Because Death is not a bold or dangerous man.

Now, personally, I experienced a lot of loss at a young age. And because one of those major losses was my father, people assume I must have “daddy issues” – but I don’t (at least, not in the traditional sense of the term). These days, media plays the game of selling girls with daddy issues as commodities, and while I believe myself to be quite valuable, I am also not for sale.

Yet another reason that I exist in multiple states of inherent contradictions. But that’s besides the point.

And arguably I lost the point like three headings ago so here it is.

In all of our lives there is a time when we realize we have been taunting death – most blame youth for this, but I’d argue the opposite. I think this fear has a trickle down effect. That those closer to death, fixate on it more and thus they hide it from the ones who are younger – which in turn allows them to forget that he exists – and so in those moments we chase him and the ones he takes – because we are too young, by comparison, to be taken too.

When we are kids we believe we can live forever because everyone around us is big and grown and free and alive – so we chase that dream. But when we grow, the ones we love die and because we have always followed them we lose all sense of direction. And then by the time we find it again – we turn around and chase death again. So when did you start running? And who will catch who first?

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