Nothing to Be Frightened Of

Nothing to Be Frightened Of - Julian Barnes This is NOT going to be a review of the book, because ... I don't even know why I can't review this book. I can just talk about my own experience of it. Just this time, I promise.

I am so afraid of death that it cripples me.

That sounds so pompuos, but it's true.

I am afraid of death, because it never just comes and goes. If it would be like that, none of us would ever suffer. We are human. We need time to addapt, to understand, we need to be conscious of what's happening to us or to the ones around us. This, I think, is the actual barbarity of death. It requires our knowledge. It can't just happen to us, it can't just hide itself behind a passing moment, it needs us to see her and understand what she's doing to us.

When she takes an innocent child, a young person, an adult, she's cruel.

But when she takes the withered, old sack of bones that you become after years and years, she's not just cruel, she's merciless.

So, after all, I'm not only afraid of death. I'm afraid of old age, of not being able to tend for myself. I never ask for a hand from anyone, I never call people if I have problems, I'm keeping everything inside because I believe that it is in my power to help myself everytime something happens. If, and only if, it's bigger than what I think I can bear, only then I ask someone to take care of me.

But being old? That.. takes more power right there than I'll ever have.

You know what I found in this book, and the reason why I can't properly review it?

All my fears.

I fear few things, really. Pain, in general, like any human being. The loss of my loved ones. All the normal things that every normal person feels are important to him.

But I also fear things that are beyond my or anyone else's control. Being old. Being sick. Oblivion. Death. These.. you do not say no to. These you do not whisk away like some job you can leave for tomorrow. These call you for a line-up and yell your name, and when you hear it, you're done. You don't get a second chance at this. Never.

Barnes wrote about how he thinks of death everyday. How, sometimes, he wakes up in the middle of the night and the first thing that comes to his mind is death. That happens to me too. I have this permanent thought that resides deep in my mind and is connected to my self-awareness, and it implies my death. There is not one day where I don't question myself: "Will you be able to stand it? How will it be? When will it be?" Random things in my daily life remind me of death, and I hear of it almost every day. After all, I want to make a living out of studying the deaths of other people. I have nightmares about the deaths of my parents, of my sister, of my friends. I dream about my own death and never have I escaped it, in any of my nights. I always end up dying; that's probably one of the solitary things that are true in my dreams - I always die, just as I will in real life.

And you know what's funny? None of these recollections, none of these times when I realize how inescapable death is makes me want to give up. If anything, it makes me fight harder. It makes me want to leave something behind, just to try to trick death into believing that she's gotten rid of me, even if a part of myself is still out there, in the world. A child, a piece of work, an advice, something of me that might survive the fall of my flesh - that's what all this makes me want to have. I don't want to escape death, I don't even hope for that, no matter how afraid I am of it. I know my days here come in a finite number, and I, as opposed to others, am content with it. Infinity is for fools who don't know how to live and want to repeat the same mundane routine for eternity. I just want to trick death. She's a conniving little bitch, why wouldn't I be one?

And yet, as a young human in this world of ours, I fear it beyond my rational self. I fear it somewhere in my guts; deep in my visceral self, I know that when death comes, I'll look away from its face. Not because of a lack of courage, but because I wouldn't want her to be able to erase my smile. Sounds romantic, right? Sounds silly?

Might be, but when I think about my death, it scares me so much that I sometimes smile. Maybe it's a lunatic smile, carried onto my face by some mental impairment that stops me from seeing reality: that death is an ugly thing, violent, barbaric, ruthless, that humans die like dogs, ugly, forgotten, useless as they were when they were alive.

But maybe, just maybe, I refuse to accept that reality.

I want to live, despite being constantly aware of my impeding death.

And when it comes, I want it to see fear in my eyes and to hear an ironic "welcome" from my smiling lips, just so she knows she might have taken me away from this world, but can't touch my trace in it.

And if it so happens that I die young and sudden, let her see that she was right for taking me so fast, for I would've been a threat to her.

O créature raysonnable
qui desires vie eternelle ...