Saturday, 9 May 2015

The Museum of You

My everyday is a battle with mortality, and every single day without fail, I lose.

For the past couple of years or so, my life has been defined and prioritised by the constant knowledge that things alive never asked to be. Never chose to be. And just as their choice when to come to life is not theirs, so very often their choice when to leave is neither.

Every month, the smiling Doctor asks me a series of routine questions before they hand me that little green slip. 

"How have you been this month?... Been up to much?... How's the family doing?... Felt like killing yourself at all?..." 

And it forever makes me laugh how they try and brush over that question, disguising it among a series of banal formalities. It doesn't make me laugh because it's funny, because quite frankly it's terrifying and serious thing to be asked. It's because you'd think by now they'd know that the main reason I am sat before them in the first place is for my obsessive and life-alteringly persistent ponderings and phobia of the ambiguousness of my own mortality. 

In essence, I can't shake the feeling that every single day that I live is my last. 

Whether it's anxiety, a phobia or a form of OCD, (does a label really make it any more understandable?) whatever it is, in certain degrees of severity it lurks beneath everything I do. 

What if by waiting an extra ten minutes and taking the other train, you end up tripping on the platform and fall onto the track to be hit by a train? What if by choosing to stay in bed instead of going to the shop tonight you actually stopped yourself being stabbed by a mugger on the way? What if you decide you're going to say something to that person tomorrow but you have an anyuerism in your sleep and never ever get to tell them?

Irrational? Of course. Avoidable? Impossible. 

At first and for a very long time, it fucked me up. Hence came the doctors, the therapy, the pills. It got so, so much better and more manageable after that, but I still remained somewhat bitter knowing the fault of my brain was still there, only masked by chemicals I added in to make it seem better.  

But then, after time, I figured out how to let it stop fucking with me - I let it. 

I stopped fighting it, laid down my barricades and let this faux 'knowledge' completely envelope me that it was my last day on earth and I was never going to have another. 

And after the initial horror and pain, a little voice peeked from the gloom and said,

Right so it's your last day on earth... what are we going to do with it then?

And hope and optimism came pouring through the darkness. 

Like I wasn't going to bloody hell live the shit out of my last day on earth. 

And then the next day I'd wake up and say phew I actually made it through! But I just know I won't be so lucky today... so what are we going to do with our last day on earth?

And before I knew it... I realised my life had become amazing. 

By letting my darkest and most life-controlling fear completely take a hold of me, I realised that it had made my life more beautiful and exciting than I ever could have hoped for. 

Never has the cheesy generic phrase 'Live like there's no tomorrow' had such poignancy to anyone.

Besides, living every day like you're going to die has a certain way of allowing you to see what really doesn't matter in life, and the people, the places and the things that really, really do. Hell, if you ever want to know exactly what you're about, convince yourself you're about to die and see what you'll miss most, and make a to-do list of all the things you'd regret never having the chance to do. 

Death and I have an understanding now. 

And I too have figured out how to live comfortably and safely in the shadow of my own inevitability 

My life is a museum and I am the curator.

My memories are installations, my achievements, exhibitions.

From birth I have been curating the complete and unabridged museum of me. 

And I live to ensure it will continue long after my demise.

I have charted every thought, plotted the course for every idea and analysed every emotion. No stone has been left unturned in my constant pursuit to satisfy my curiosities about the idiosyncrasies of the human condition - whether scrawled in notebooks as a child or tapped into cyberspace as an adult.

But this is not a museum built for footfall.

It's endless marble corridors need only carry but one set of echoing footsteps.

And even so young and so new, so naive and still yet so inexperienced, as my feet trace those familiar halls I feel such fullness. Completion.

I feel wealth, a richness built of complexity and comfort in the knowledge that nothing is taken for granted. Everything has purpose, every item in it's perfectly designated spot.

From room to room I watch my memories play out in real time like projections of old flickering silent movies, the unbelievable tales, the thrilling adventures and the extraordinary people I have known, I have loved, I have lost. The scent of nostalgia is heavy in the air, choking in some places, but fragrant and soft in others. 

My walk is slow and sentimental, an age in my step entirely independent from the numerical value of time since my biological form came into existence.

I reflect backwards as though from the end.

Like the final moments before transcendence, as though it is the last time I'll ever revisit these hallowed halls of my own making and look upon everything I have created and been, I watch with a love tinged with sorrow, an overall feeling of gratitude that I was ever able to begin building in the first place, and a final pride of what I managed to create with the people I encountered, in the time that I had. 

But a museum is never complete - it does not finish when it's rooms are full. Seeking more is as good as biologically ingrained within me, and the purpose was never to just idly observe record, it was to serve as a base from which to stray far and wide to constantly seek new things to exhibit. New purpose.  

And pressing my hands against the cool white door of the exit, simultaneously convinced it is the final time of me doing so yet secretly knowing my feet will trace the very same route again tomorrow, I know that the only way to ever stop fearing my life being suddenly taken from me, is to live everyday, as if I am prepared to die. 



  2. I liked it so much !
    Many books that I read, many films that inspired me asked me to "live my day like it's the last". But I just can't.
    I can't because I have projects and dreams for the future, and living my day as it's the last means that I'm going to do what I want to do THAT day and not work for my future.

  3. I don't really know what to say but that was incredible to read!! xo

  4. I don't really know what to say but that was incredible to read!! xo

  5. God Katie your writing is so powerful. Makes the hair on my arms stand up.

    Rhiân xo

  6. All I have to say is that I understand.

  7. This was such a brave post and thank you for writing it. I understand this too, far more than I would like, but reading your beautiful words that describe how anxiety can rule our lives- but how we can also break free from it, has been so inspiring.

  8. This is great, I loved reading this.
    Tegan xx - Permanent Procrastination

  9. "My life is a museum and I am the curator" - this whole post really made me think :) thank you!

  10. This is absolutely incredible to read you are such a strong inspiration especially as I am struggling at the moment I will keep coming back to this post now xx

  11. Okay, honestly, I have never known anyone before to feel exactly the way that I do about this and I just??? Like I've been this way for so long, and I'm pretty sure it's a form of anxiety. For me, it was exactly like you described it, except it also bleeds into my relationships with others. When I was young, I'd get so anxious about my parents going anywhere without me because "what if something happens to them?!?!" and I'm the person who absolutely NEVER leaves things in a bad place, i.e. in the middle of an argument etc. and always says 'I love you' before bed even if I'm still angry because you just never know what can happen. UGH and your part about the "what if's" like... You have no idea what a relief it is to know I'm not the only one who thinks about things like that so much. Thank you so much for this post, and for your blog, and for always putting so eloquently into words what so many others can't articulate.

    Alyssa — fragments of memories

  12. But a museum is never complete - it does not finish when it's rooms are full-constantly seeking new things to exhibit. New purpose I love this whole thing .. Your writing is amazing! I feel touched & I understand!
    Jade z

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