Douglas Bastard's Rants of Rage

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This article was written on 27 Jan 2017, and is filled under Uncategorised.

On death

I am a genetic accident. My half-remembered knowledge of sixth form biology is such that I know that I owe various aspects of my personality to the way genes interacted at the moment of my conception and that this conception was, in itself, a vast and unlikely event that makes winning the lottery look like a certainty. When I was working for a bookshop in London, years ago, I helped out at an event where Richard Dawkins spoke and drew our attention to the unlikeliness of our very existence. It saved me from suicide at the time, because I was suddenly consumed with joy at the unlikeliness of existence and wanted to see what happened next. It turns out that was a slightly optimistic view.

Being so conceived, a fluke of biology and DNA, seems like a rather barbarous way of proceeding. If I was asked, on the balance of what has transpired in my life so far and shown it like a kind of movie, if I’d like to be born, I’d reply in the negative. There is nothing about existence that commends itself to me, no pleasure that isn’t swiftly succeeded by pain or disappointment, no joy that isn’t followed by sadness. Life has it that I’m here against my will, then, an unwitting and utterly grudging participant in a crap carnival which I have almost no control over.

Given this position, I should, by rights, kill myself. That I don’t is down purely to one thing: my total and utter cowardice. My fear is that I would botch it, waking up with impaired liver and kidneys or, that if I jumped from a height, which is my favoured method, that it would hurt, if however briefly. Until such time as someone invents a painless and guaranteed way of delivering death in pill form, then, I am stuck here. However. Men in my family typically die of cancer at around 70 and, as I’m now 43, I still have 27 years of substantially pointless life to fill. It behoves me, then, to work out a plan for this, final lap.

And it’s this. I want to have a comfortable death. My desire is that I’m warm, safe, housed and with access to whatever pain medication I need to make sure that suffering is kept to a minimum. As an addendum to this, I want to have some, vague control over my own destiny, such that decisions about my care and about my wellbeing cannot be made without me. As we live in a capitalist society, this means having sufficient money to make sure that this can come to pass.

This is why I’m looking at taking a job which pays what I consider to be a large salary in a country where the taxation and cost of living in not excessive. Is this a job I want to do? No, not really. Is it one that speaks to some deep, inner need? No, it’s purely about shifting product. Will it leave humanity better than I found it? No, that’s ridiculous. Instead, it will help me get out of debt, pay the people in my life what I owe them and, admittedly slowly, bearing in mind that what I owe the people in my life is already quite significant, start paying into a fund which I intend to use to make sure that I die in reasonably pleasant circumstances and not in fear for the withdrawal of my care or a sudden drop in my living standard.

I do, you see, find myself indifferent to the supposed ‘gift’ of life, neither requested nor wanted, but if I am suffered to live it, then I can spend the intervening years making sure that the bit that really matters, which is the end of it, is more pleasant than the previous years. The permanent battles with mental health wear you out, the eternally being skint and depending on charity mean that your dignity is slowly sliced up and then fed to you piece by piece. As a mentally ill and skint person, you surrender all control over your own life until your freedom to act unilaterally is utterly gone. I’m throughly, utterly tired with trying to ‘stay positive’ and with attempting to turn every thin opportunity into a chance for paid work that by about seven each evening, all I can think about is bed. And then, when I wake up, the whole bloody circus starts over again, full of opportunities to let people down, disappoint them and generally be injured in a million tiny ways. It’s an existence I wouldn’t wish on my worst enemy, so it makes sense that I look to the end of it almost like a release.

The day I die, the day the original genetic accident is finally corrected, is the day when all the small things that attach to me, like owing people money or some kind of other debt, finally break away and have no hold over me. To paraphrase Yeats’ ‘An Irish Airman Foresees His Death,’ no likely end will bring the people I knew loss, nor leave them happier than before. In my death, there will be a perverse freedom from all these attachments and a final transcendence: I didn’t ever want to be here and, after all, I won’t.

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