My mortal coil is a Slinky. It starts at my feet and winds up and up, so tightly wrapped around me that it would take a great deal of doing to shuffle it off. It’s not that I fear the state of death, or what lies beyond, because when I reach that point it will no longer matter. The afterlife will do what it wills — be it roasting my sinning butt in an eternal all-you-can-eat Avery barbeque, or allowing me to pass into floaty happiness as a tiny part of the greater One. And even if there is no sense beyond that which the living body provides, it still won’t matter to me once I’m dead. After all, the insensate form has no means by which to mourn itself. No, I worry more about the single second right before all goes blank (or all is revealed) when I’ll recognize that one moment as the last for me — at least the last as I currently recognize moments.
I’ve been plagued the entirety of my adult life with what I call my Hamlet complex; my considerable concern with becoming whatever it is I will become in the end. Equaling this is my concern for being myself until the end of time.
I guess what I’m saying is, I fear eternity.
The idea of never-ending sameness strikes a chord of horror within me. As much as I don’t relish the idea of being dead forever, I sure as hell don’t want to be alive forever. If I had the choice, I think I’d prefer to be dead a while, then wake up and live a while, going back and forth in that manner until time itself passes into oblivion. I’ve considered the hope of reincarnation, but the thought of not recalling who I am at this very moment bothers me (then again, if I’ve already reincarnated into this particular life, the process hasn’t done much to me in the way of trauma). I suppose it all goes back to that instant when I die. At that moment, when I’m still Avery, I suspect relinquishing my memories to become another person entirely would be an unwelcome idea. But, once I’d crossed over (or up, or down, or whatever direction I’m to take) it might not seem like such a bad deal.
These issues — as with countless writers before me — have wound their way into my book, snaking around the storyline much as my mortal Slinky coil has encompassed me. I’ve flung death onto pages of text, infusing this novel with themes of mortality and resurrection. Mirroring my trepidation of a future without change, Resonance spends some time in a version of the Norse Hel, a icy wasteland that stretches without variation into eternity. My necromancers speak of a cycle of life, death and rebirth — but also with options for those who choose not to inhabit a living shell again. There’s no punishment or consequence, only personal choice. The dead are allowed to select how they want their afterlife to play out. They’re given back their freewill — something ultimately taken from them at birth when they were not consulted about the matter of their eventual demise. And so, I’ve gone on, attempting to placate myself with my own fancies, soothing my inner uncertainties within my characters’ spirituality.
Has this exercise in self-trickery lessened my Hamlet complex? Not really. But, at least I’ve made some use of useless qualms. We writers are lucky; we have the will and ability to forge entire worlds of our own choosing. We can create people, and then pass onto them the hopes we don’t dare hold for ourselves. We are granted the range to give vent to our frustrations and fears, and then to conceal them all under the pretty guise of art. Do you know what the best part is? It’s cheaper than therapy.
I was given a link to this video by my friend X, who is, as always, ever sensitive to my fits of despair: