Let me start off by offering an apology to anyone who came to this blog expecting to find a zealous interest in death and all things grisly. I am afraid, contrary to anticipations that may have been raised by the name, this blog isn’t going to focus on the macabre, reflect on the afterlife or provide handy hints for serial killers. I thought the picture of the cat might help prepare you for the disappointment.
I have called this blog ‘fear of the reaper’ because this sums up my philosophy to life in four small words. Amongst friends and family I more commonly refer to this as my ‘death bed anxiety’ but I thought ‘fear of the reaper’ was a little catchier.
What I mean by this is that I fear being on my death bed, looking back on how I spent my days and thinking ‘well, that was a waste’. It’s pretty much along the lines of a carpe diem/no regrets kind of philosophy except that my version recognises that somedays you can’t be bothered to seize and that aspiring to never regretting anything is setting yourself up to fail.
Fear of the reaper started as an annual event, which always happened to be around Christmas time. It was that point at the end of the year surrounded by loved ones and with time out from the ordinary day-to-day things, like work and cleaning the bathroom, that cleared the way for a bit of self-reflection. I suspect that being in a constant state of slight inebriation and food-induced-conscious-coma might also have had a part in this.
I became conscious of this annual period of self-reflection a couple of years after I graduated and started to anticipate the annual evaluation. A yearly review, as it were, on how well I’ve performed as a human being, lived up to expectations, managed my responsibilities and made the most out of life. I weighed up what I’d done in these intial post-graduate years and felt, for the most part…disappointed. There goes another year and what have I got to show for it?
I became increasingly conscious of how I was going to feel at my yearly review and this started to influence my thinking throughout the year. I started thinking about what I could do to ‘up’ my annual rating. I knew that signing up to the gym just before Christmas wasn’t going to do the trick. I was a tough evaluator and wasn’t going to fall for any half-hearted attempts at worthiness.
This motivated me to start new challenges and it began with the part-time Masters degree programme in Human Rights. That two year degree, which had seemed too much of a commitment when I first though about post-grad study, would be taken care of in just two annual reviews. That took care of 2009 and 2010.
And so it began. My constant quest for the next achievement so I could distinguish the passing of years as ‘the year that I finished my degree’ or ‘the year that I went to Cambodia’ and so on. (If you were wondering for 2014 I have ‘the year I moved to Switzerland’ to fall back on in case ‘the year I had a go at blogging’ doesn’t work out so well.)
I want to keep moving forward in life and trying new things, sometimes these things won’t work out and I might well end up regretting them. But I’d rather use my fear of the reaper to have a go and fail than risk getting to the end of this life and ending up with an epitaph that reads:
1985 – XXXX
‘Could have tried harder’