Sunday 15 June 2014

I Choose To Be Alive

"You put too much pressure on yourself."

You tell me,

"Have patience, you don’t have to do everything now.",

“You have so much time to do that when you are older.”

And I want to scream and grab you by the shoulders,

And yell,

"Do you fully, truly grasp the concept of death? Do you really understand that we are completely unaware and defenseless against this ‘thing’ that is indisputably, inevitably going to happen to every single last one of us, in which we just stop being?

Do you realise that the one and only certainty in every single instance where life exists, is death? That there is one day, one second, which could be today, tomorrow or a hundred years from now, that there is a certain point in time of which you’ll never ever know how far away it is, when you just suddenly cease to exist and every breath in your body will leave, make every plan you’ve made suddenly futile, resolve all of your past thoughts, actions and decisions irrevocably irrelevant, and you will die?"

Now I can sit here and listen to the truth that I seek too much too young, that it may seem perhaps I am in a rush to do everything too soon, but these words simply deflect off me by the sheer, overwhelming weight of perhaps the greatest truth of all.

We are constantly saving money and making plans for a future we have no guarantee will even exist.

We know we are all dying, yet none of us know when we will die.

And forgive me for not electing to ignore that. For not playing it down, skirting around the topic as if the less words we speak of it, the less of a truth it becomes. Forgive me if I can’t ignore this almost painfully flagrant knowledge that I am a living dying human being, that I can’t indulge in a little ignorance, with a shrug say ‘Eh, I’ll do it tomorrow’ when I have not a single iota of evidence to guarantee that I will live to see tomorrow.

So yes, to you I may seem overambitious, burning the candle at both ends, perhaps even going off the rails a little, but to me, I’m just trying to cram as much life into every single day in which I wake up and realise I am alive, because I’m choosing to acknowledge the fact one day I won’t.

And the fact of the matter is,

until the day I that I die,

I choose life.

And I am not going to sit back and let my life drift along at a steady unassuming pace by being sensible, frugal, dull.

I am a very, very old 21 year-old girl.

Because ever since I was a child, I have found myself to be blessed with the curse of foresight.

One of my earliest memories, was a habit of exercising this at my Uncle and Aunt's house.

For some reason, whenever we went over there, as it was usually in the days of high summer, fat lazy insects, tall swaying grass and the delicious smells of barbecuing meat, I would steal off alone, to sit in a quiet empty room, I would stare at the wall and I would say the singular word aloud;


I'd then leave and return the laughing thronging mass of my family in the sunshine.

Hours and hours later, when the sun had long since set, and the adults had fallen into a delightfully weary state of slow inebriation and the children were lounging on the sofas watching television, exhausted from the day's frolicking, I'd suddenly sit bolt upright and I'd remember.

I'd excuse myself, perhaps saying I was going to the toilet, and I would sit alone again, and as if finally halting that proverbial stopwatch I had started countless hours before and instantly forgotten since, I'd utter that single word again.


And I'd sit there, and I'd hug my knees up to my chest and my little seven year old brain would positively marvel looking back on everything which had happened between those two points in time I had chosen to single out, every conversation I had, every joke we had laughed at, the exact taste of all the food and drink I had consumed.

I'd then consider with a mixed sentiment of fear and astonishment just how much had happened in between those two points, yet it could have been only seconds ago when I'd first uttered that word.

And so, from a very young age, I've always had a very firm understanding of what the word 'now' means. 

And I guess to me now at age 21, this cursed foresight gifts me with this peculiar sensation that I am living my life for the second time over.

I can see, as clear as memory, the trajectory of the life that I was once on, a life that I would never ever want and would be so easy to slip into. A life of constant procrastination and distraction, filling my days with meaningless semi-entertaining irrelevance and triviality, doing what needs to be done and nothing more, until I wake up a middle-aged woman and I break down in agonising realisation of the life I have now lost forever, the unsiezed and boundless potential I just let slip through my fingers.

And now, by some sweet miracle of the universe, I have been given a second chance.

Like some cheesy Hollywood rom-com, I have been sent back in time into my 21 year-old body and bestowed with the power to do everything I never got the chance to first time round. To make the most of every single second as if each day on this planet was like riding a billowing wave from the ever-stalking death.

I am going to work hard and I am going to spend ever single penny I earn, completely living off my means and I am going to travel to as many places as I can. I'm going to count small change and eat nothing but soup and crackers if I have to, I am going to go on the road with my beautiful, talented friends, we're going to go camping, make music, take road trips and busk on the streets in various cities to pay for the petrol we need to move on.

I'm going to satsify every curiosity and desire within me to explore and experience this planet, I'm going to find a remote cabin and lock myself away and finally write my novel, we're going to record our EP and play our live gigs around the country, I'm going to spend my money on books and artifacts, creating inspired ventures and spontaneous plans to create and travel, I'm going to say YES to more things and I am going to live the shit out of every single day I have.

Because lord jesus knows how many I have left.

And I'm not just gonna wait around to find out.

This is me, Katie Oldham, standing up right here right now and declaring that;

I. Choose Life.