When my daughter was three or four, she learned about death. She was a fortunate child–she learned about it when her goldfish died, and when we found a dead squirrel in the street. Things like that. I explained about what death was on a physical level, and shared my own beliefs as best I could.
I told her that when we die, our spirits leave our bodies, and those bodies are not us anymore. I told her that what happens to our spirits after death is a great mystery, and people have had many different ideas about it. I told her that I, personally, believe that our spirits do go to some destination after leaving this plane, but I don’t know exactly what it is like.
She chose to cope with this new existential knowledge by acting out skits involving death over and over. She’d be a little wolf or other wild animal and portray the entire life cycle, and I would have to be the third-person narrator or loved one. I’d have to welcome her when she was born and watch her grow, and eventually she’d say “And now pretend that it came my time to die,” and she’d curl up on the floor and close her eyes, and she’d say “Now pretend I’m dead,” and I’d have to say goodbye. “I’m sad and I’ll miss her being here, but I hope her spirit has fun on the next level.” Then she’d start over.
It wasn’t always easy, but it’s not as if pretending she was dead was a new thing for me. I don’t know how common this is for parents, but since she was born she’s met her end in countless ways inside my head. My imagination creates catastrophe as its default activity, running a loop of fear and paranoia just under the surface of my consciousness, breaking through at the edge of sleep or any other time my defenses get low. I wrote about this more fully in Phantasy.
To be loved by me is to die. Over and over, quickly or slowly, death upon death in a sheaf of universes created by this mind of mine. To be important to me is to be cruel, abandoning, deceitful or mocking in an eternal and multiplying series of imaginary dramas. To be a presence in my life is to be present in dangerous scenarios and epics spanning space and time, their only commonality being that I am somehow central.
How easy it would be to condemn my mind and imagination for this darkness and this inward focus. But I must not, for the same reasons I must not condemn anything else about myself–I can’t afford to. I have a commitment to life, and staying on the side of life means not allowing shame to push me too far toward the enemy.
I try to remember that being loved by me also means being seen with a gaze that looks beyond the obvious and an imagination that accesses beauty and depth in people. To be important to me is to be endowed with mystical, archetypal qualities and never ordinary. To be present in my life is to join me in exciting adventures, and to be my comrade in arms in a sheath of positive or transcendent experiences too.
As usual, I write this so that any who share some of these experiences know they are not alone. How many other people think the way I think, willingly or not? How many find it hard to let intimacy into their lives because of a constantly running broadcast of calamity within? Does anyone else have a mental landscape like mine? The more I study myself and my past, the more observing ego I have about this level of consciousness and what it’s up to. I learn more of the story of myself; not bad, not good; just a story.