The older I get, the more my life feels like a story written by someone else. It’s not that I feel more powerless per se but recognize my reality as the product of a network of forces largely beyond my control. I am a highly invested reader of a novel about death and aging where I often make an appearance.
I have lived most of my life as if death is the villain and I am the hero. I feel like I am about to find out the twist is death revealing herself as the one who makes life so precious and fragile and that the villain was me, fighting against her the entire time as if I didn’t know exactly how the story was going to end.
I have worn the fear of death around like a diaphanous shroud that colored everything around me. In my 20’s and much of my 30’s it was an active fight against it: ambition and striving and sometimes self-hate for never doing quite enough to make every moment meaningful. It was as if death was right around the corner to ruin everything and I was going to prove how little power she had over me. My 30th birthday was one of the worst moments of my life; yet another reminder of how little I had accomplished.
Here I am today, ten years from that moment feeling like my relationship with death is changing. I certainly have not accomplished the exact things that 30 year old me needed but have learned how much those needs came from an unhealthy place where I was the main character.
What a boring story to tell! My story is beautiful because it is our story. Even at our loneliest moments, we are still here together in this bizarre book club reminding ourselves that this isn’t just a tragedy but a complex genre-bending novel where we are all lucky enough to decide its meaning.
I couldn’t ask for a better cast of characters. Either way, I don’t know how to fall in love with this story without you. Thanks for being here.