Death and other notions

So as some of you may or may not have heard, on June 10th, singer Christina Grimmie, was fatally shot at her concert Orlando, Florida and died in a local hospital.

My sister told me about it, specifically the fact that Grimmie was in critical condition, over a plate of gado-gado after yoga class. All I said was ‘what?’ because though I did believe her, it seemed unreal. Grimmie was only young and incredibly talented; she’d proven herself time and time again and she still had a long way to go. So there was a part of me that thought, by some miracle, Grimmie would survive, that she was going to make it out alive and that she’ll continue doing what she loves and share it with her fans, her loved ones, and the world. This can’t possibly be the end for her.

Her miracle didn’t arrive. When I read about her death, I wasn’t devastated. My relationship with Grimmie and her work went as far as downloading only one of her covers (Kurt Hugo Scheider’s cover of ‘Just A Dream’, in which she was a part of along with Sam Tsui) and when she participated in The Voice back in 2014—and even I’ve forgotten all about that until now. I feel like I know her the same way I remember my former classmates from school: only vaguely and never that close to begin with. There’s a part of me that feels that I should be sadder for her death, or even angry at the injustice of it all.

Instead, I was just stunned.

The news sinks in and slowly I began piecing things together. Grimmie was 22. She was having a concert in Orlando, Florida. She was signing autographs for her fans when her assailant shot her thrice. In that moment, her world flipped 180-degrees and she was gone. No one saw it coming.

It’s quite literally one of my biggest fears becoming reality—that my life can end (snap) just like that. It scares me how I don’t know, that I’ll never know, how much time I have left. That no matter what I do in the past and in the present, there is absolutely no guarantee for what the future has in store for me. It’s like taking a multiple choice test you were never truly prepared for and having no answer key to cross check your work with. Grimmie’s concert could have gone one of a billion ways, and it ended with her rushed to the hospital on a gurney and finally flatlining.

I’m not afraid of death; it’s an inevitable part of life and I’ve come to accept that. What I’m afraid of is leaving this world long before I get the chance to leave my mark the way I want to. And I’m afraid of not being able to continue leaving marks because I have so much to give and learn.

It’s moments like this that makes me reflect on my own life. It leaves me with ‘what ifs’ hanging over my head. What if I don’t have enough time? What if I’d gone through with it instead? What if things worked out differently? What if I had? What if I hadn’t?

With every single question, I try to reason with myself that maybe not everything I do matters in the long run. If my life was a lake and every decision I make came in the form of skipping rocks, then that one time I decided to wear my plaid shirt with skinny jeans instead of a graphic t-shirt and shorts when meeting with friends would only make a small, meaningless ripple. And if something did go wrong with my seemingly innocuous outfit that day, it still wouldn’t make much of a difference in my life.

But how would I know for sure?

And what about the bigger events that had happened? The ones that make up a better (and worse) parts of my personality? I know how they affect me now and, to a certain extent the people I surround myself with, but what about then? If my future isn’t guaranteed by what I do in the past and the present, how will I know which moments are the ones that really matter in the end?

I suppose this is part of the reason why I’m always drawn to interactive, choice-based video games. Because, as limited as they are, you can see the impact of your decisions as a big picture and how it affects the story as a whole. Everything is presented to you in a neat and concrete fashion. And with every decision you are also given the option to experiment and, should it be necessary, ‘rewind’ in order to rectify your mistakes—which is a whole other issue for me because I’ve come to accept my shortcomings in the past. I wouldn’t be where I am today if not for them. I wouldn’t know the things I know now. And I would hate to think that I could be anywhere else than where I am now.

There’s always the possibility that I could be just as happy if things went differently in my life, in a different place, different time, with different people. But I could also be extremely unhappy—which I once was—in a different place, different time, with different people. And that’s what bothers me most a lot of the times—thinking about how different my life could be had I made different choices back then and never really knowing if it will matter at all until . . . who knows when.

My mum used to tell me ‘do your best and God will do the rest’—an advice that I still believe in to this day even though I am no longer religious. Making the best of your situation, reflecting on your past behaviour, taking action, and staying hopeful, I do believe, is one of the most sensible ways of getting through life. But these days—taking into consideration things such as advancements in technology, politics, or even your own circumstances—when literally anything can happen in a blink of an eye and have your life completely turned upside down, you can’t help but feel . . . powerless.

I try not to think about this too much, but there are days where I can’t help but let my mind get overrun by these thoughts (because if I’ve learned anything at all, it’s that if you fight and resist thoughts like these, it’ll manifest in ways that will benefit no one) so I needed to get it out of my system. I tried to keep my thoughts consistent with this post (success is undetermined) because it’s so easy for me to get carried away and go off on a tangent, especially when talking about huge, complicated subjects like mortality and the inexplicable and perplexing notions of the future. But I’ll end this for now.

If you’ve made it this far into my post, then I want to thank you for reading. My deepest condolences to Christina’s friends, family, and loved ones, and I hope that one day the world will arrive on a day where a senseless death would cease to exist.

Until next time,

(Side image is a snapshot I took from a page of Austin Kleon’s Show Your Work!: 10 Ways to Share Your Creativity and Get Discovered, repurposed specifically for this review only)

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[EDIT (14/06/16): this CrashCourse episode pretty much sums up my thoughts about my philosophy behind death and dying. It’s also my favourite CrashCourse episode of all time (so far).]

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