COMMON RUIN

“Ars longa, vita brevis”

Archive for the tag “mortality”

From Adventure to Misadventure on Sunday Afternoon

The first car accident I was involved in occurred when I was a young boy and a teenager ran a stop sign in a quiet suburban neighborhood, thereafter slamming into the side of my father’s car. The second was on my way home from work one night on one of the state’s busiest highways—a drunk driver was responsible for a collision involving several vehicles and the slick pavement caused me to hydroplane into one of them. The third transpired this past weekend, and this is the story of how it came to pass.

Friday and Saturday consisted of my usual weekend routine, but by Sunday I had become weary of urban pastimes and yearned for the tranquility and solitude of nature. (My occasional agoraphobia was not as much the impetus behind this sudden urge as was the fact I could not bear the notion of spending another day in a city teeming with self-absorbed, prodigal dullards prattling on about their banal college lives.) Since I was bereft of suitable locations to facilitate my desire to temporarily retreat into the wilderness, I had no choice but to turn to the internet for assistance. I subsequently found several parks which met the criteria I had in mind and selected the most appealing among them.

Ominous weather and the park’s general obscurity ensured that I was the only individual who happened to be on the nature trail, which was magnificent. The experience turned out to be just as therapeutic as I hoped it would. As is doubtless the case for many others, I sometimes require brief periods of isolation in order for my creative faculties to perform optimally—and I often return from excursions like Sunday afternoon’s abound with ideas for various projects.

For all its faults, Florida features some of the most captivating terrain in the Union.

For all its faults, Florida possesses some of the most captivating terrain in the Union. (My lousy cellphone picture doesn’t do the scene justice, unfortunately.)

After my brisk hike through the park had concluded, the storms began to intensify and I decided it was time to return to the concrete jungle. On the way to my apartment, the hazardous weather conditions prompted me to make an effort to drive especially cautiously, so as to avert the possibility of getting into an accident. But one person exercising caution is obviously not sufficient, and as I was approaching my destination a negligent elderly gentleman failed to yield while merging into my lane and rammed into the rear, passenger side of my car. Instead of being annoyed with the man’s utter carelessness, the response the ordeal evoked in me was trauma over the vicissitudes of life.

Some of the damage my vehicle sustained.

Some of the damage my vehicle sustained.

Although I am fortunate the accident was not worse than it could have been (my injuries, while painful, are survivable), it educed my keen sense of the fragility of life and its attendant death anxiety. Over-analyzing the arbitrariness of the universe is a significant part of my neurosis, and this event undoubtedly exacerbated that psychological tendency I exhibit to a considerable degree. For instance, I cannot help but think that had I chosen to visit a different park, the accident would not have occurred; but then maybe I would have been bitten by a venomous snake, or perhaps some other unforeseeable fatal event could have befallen me. One could easily get even more specific and claim that, were I to have taken an additional 30 seconds brushing my teeth on Sunday morning, the outcome of my entire day (or possibly life) could well have been drastically different. And so on, and so forth. This manner of thinking is the principal source of my anxiety disorder—a condition I have been afflicted with for nearly three years—and, try as I may, I cannot always suppress it.

Everyday we enter into a world of profound uncertainty and yet we deceive ourselves into believing it is within our control. I suppose it is an understandable approach to take, for if human beings seriously contemplated every conceivable repercussion of their actions nothing would get accomplished. Those of us who are not fortunate enough to reside in a state of ignorant bliss or are incapable of successfully executing the aforementioned self-deception others regularly engage in, however, have no alternative but to resign ourselves to life’s caprice and simply hope we make it through unscathed. Our inability to come to terms with this dreadful aspect of the human condition condemns us to a life characterized by Weltschmerz.

Birthday

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On this day 26 years ago, I reluctantly came into this world. (I’m told the doctor had some difficulty removing me during my mother’s Caesarean section, resulting in me taking approximately five minutes longer to be born than my twin brother—It’s as if I already knew what awaited me.)

The weather this morning is almost as if delivered by the gods. As I am not one for the sunshine, I find overcast skies ideal. The temperature is also mild, which is pleasant. I sincerely hope these conditions will persist throughout the day.

Birthdays ceased being events to celebrate and began being somber occasions for self-reflection and criticism several years ago. “What have I accomplished?” “Is my life’s trajectory acceptable?” These are the questions that inevitably arise. Of course, there is also the infamous “I am a year closer to death, how marvelous” thought that enters into practically everyone’s mind after a certain age. I honestly do not understand how some adults can celebrate this abysmal reminder of one’s mortality; I suspect the ‘happiness’ displayed by many of them is simply a façade, so as to appear as though they are enjoying the festivities arranged by their loved ones.

When I was young, I yearned for what seemed to be the benefits of adulthood. Driving, girlfriends, general autonomy, it all seemed so very impressive. Hence I welcomed birthdays with much gusto. In addition to my eagerness to get older, the presents, pizza, and ice cream cake were delightful. I completely failed to appreciate the splendor of not having responsibilities, of enjoying the ignorance of childhood. To relive those years, now that would be something.

While I am on the subject of aging, one thing that has always puzzled me is why some women get absolutely livid whenever a man inquires as to their age. Some people even go so far as to condemn the act as representing poor etiquette. Is this a symptom of patriarchy or some other cultural byproduct I am unaware of? The evolutionary psychology crackpots would undoubtedly attribute it to women attempting to conceal their age in order to appear more youthful, thus maintaining their level of desirability to high status males, or some other such nonsense. I have yet to receive a satisfactory answer from the women I have asked, unfortunately.

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