i may or may not be an existential nihilist

Thursday, July 8, 2010

I still can't for the life of me explain why as a child I was so paranoid and fearful of death. I think it all started in the third grade when the teacher started talking about an asteroid heading towards Earth. I remember looking around in confused panic, wondering why we weren't jumping into action. Where were the lasers and bombs to destroy this monstrous asteroid? Why weren't we hiding in bomb shelters with stashes of food and goods?
Then there was Y2K, good lord that was a mess. I was in Mexico for the New Years and while everyone was out partying for the millenia (since it was 1999...) I was hiding out in bed, beneath the covers with my heart racing, convinced that if I were to die I'd damn well die in my sleep.
I was afraid of the house catching on fire, aliens declaring war on Earth and earthquakes. I can't deny that from time to time I still lose sleep over "The Big One." I guess it's one of the major downfalls of living in California.
-"Where are you from?"
-"Oh, California, where the weather's always perfect."
-"That sounds lovely!"
-"Yeah, until the Earth and Ocean decide to swallow us whole... but what a view!"
I really can't even explain where my intense fear of aliens came from. I have odd memories from when I was a child that simply do not make sense. Our yard was huge and the backyard had a giant brick wall and an enormous lemon tree hidden away in the dark corner that I rarely ventured to and never alone. I remember looking over at the wall one day and seeing, what to me as a child, appeared to be a giraffe. Later on my sister swears she saw the devil in that house so... I don't really know what I saw. Other occasions there were odd lights... but I must have walked into the living room once at an inopportune moment and caught something on tv on aliens abducting someone and it was one of those awful tv shows were they reenact everything dramatically and a million times scarier and since then I just haven't liked the idea of aliens. Do they exist? I do not care so long as their existence does not pertain to me.
Basically all these fears stem from the major one: thanatophobia, the fear of death.
When I was a kid going through one of my usual panic attacks I spoke with my eldest sister who told me not to worry about it, that it was all pointless. That we were all created out of stardust and once we perish we go back to being stardust. For whatever reason, this calmed down my fear immensely and my usual panic attacks perished. On a side-note my mother says when I was younger I used to have night-terrors but I swear I don't anymore.
Probably since them my love of astronomy and stardust has only grown. I took an astronomy course during the Spring that I loved and we even touched on a particular theory that piqued my interest.
If The Big Bang Theory is correct, then the universe is expanding. But the universe is expanding at a much slower rate today than it was millions of years ago, which has lead astronomers to believe that at some point the universe will reach some limit (what's beyond the universe?) and begin imploding into itself until it reaches a point of singularity from which a new Big Bang will emerge. This soothes me. It means that the universe is never-ending. Once this world is over, a new one will exist and who knows how many others have existed before us and will exist after us. It means that we are tiny tiny things in a grand scheme, our lives are meaningless but not in a sad "boo-hoo there's no point to my life!" type of way but just as it is. There is no point to our lives and I think that's kind of the big joke of it all.
It doesn't mean we can't make anything out of it and be meaningful to someone, but for the universe? We hardly exist.

“It's fear of the unknown. The unknown is what it is. And to be frightened of it is what sends everybody scurrying around chasing dreams, illusions, wars, peace, love, hate, all that--it's all illusion. Unknown is what it is. Accept that it's unknown and it's plain sailing. Everything is unknown--then you're ahead of the game. That's what it is. Right?”

-John Lennon

4 comments:

"stephanie kate" said...

I loved reading this!

I, too, used to be terrified of everything when I was little. It was mainly earthquakes, tornados and my family dying without me.

I'm glad it all changed though. I have some love-hate relationship with earthquakes, I have made it one of my life goals to go tornado chasing and I would much rather not be around or die with my family if that ever happens.

I think the only thing I'm afraid of lately is myself, as odd as that might seem.

Marcela García Pulido said...

tornados! i forgot about that one, haha. we don't even really have to worry about tornados in California, WTF.
Seriously, if you go tornado chasing I have to go with you to photograph it. That's one of my goals.
Don't fear yourself hon. I know your life gets a little crazy sometimes but whose doesn't? You're in control no matter what.

"stephanie kate" said...

Oh, no. I can acknowledge I have very little control and that's okay. BUT YES!
Go tornado chasing with me! Everyone I ask says no!
I also want to go to a hurricane party.

Marcela García Pulido said...

I would be completely terrified and probably try to chicken out like the entire time, but I know the photos would be intense and amazing.
What the heck's a hurricane party?
and uh, hello, we need to go to the beach and take photos.

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