I always wondered what it was like, before I was born. I suppose I couldn’t see or feel anything. But I can’t imagine a lack of vision and feeling. When you’re human, all you do is see and feel. Geometric figures dance when you shut your eyes in the dark, in colors both vibrant and dull. You feel sleepy. You feel weightless. When you’re human you see long stretches of gray asphalt, blurred by the splatter of rain on the windshield. You feel cool rainwater on your fingertips as you close the car door. You feel tired. You feel lonely. You see Christmas lights in July, wrapped around the pillars of the front porch, and you laugh with friends and drink root beer and orange soda. You feel loved, you feel together, and the night sounds like a symphony of togetherness, and everyone gets a part. You feel alive. Sometimes you endure long nights in the wintertime, vision blocked by stacks of papers and books. The only light in the room is the blue glow of the laptop. It’s too bright but it’s on dim. You feel disconnected. Like you’re drowning. Dead, you tell people later, I feel dead. Like death is a feeling, or like it carries some mixture of sentiment: one cup of loneliness, three tablespoons of emptiness and a pinch of relief. We know that death is a lack of feeling, but we can’t grasp nothing. To us, corpses in their graves are still human.
It’s sort of like blindness. I’ve always had vision, so I can’t imagine what seeing nothing looks like. Do you just see black? Or white? Which is it? One time I saw a picture of what someone’s vision is supposed to look like with macular degeneration, and it was like someone spilled black ink on the center of a photograph. But I don’t think it really looks like that. Not anymore.
One morning, I woke up, rolled out of bed, and ambled towards the kitchen, desperate for coffee, granola, and my morning ritual of skimming the headlines. But in the living room, my ears starting ringing, and I was struck with dizziness. I grabbed onto a corner of the drywall and just stood there, hunched over. I get lightheaded from time to time, and usually I see a fuzzy wall of static like you used to on those old TVs. Sometimes it’s mostly white; others it’s mostly black. But this morning’s blindness didn’t look like that. It didn’t look like anything. I had no sight. I kept blinking my eyes as hard as I could, because I couldn’t tell if they were opened or closed. Eventually, I gave up and just squeezed my hand around my phone, just to feel something. I’m going down this time, I thought to myself, and I focused on staying upright. Piece by piece, I saw my living room again, and the morning sunlight muted by the blinds on the windows. Everything was still, and my mortality was at bay.
I wonder if oblivion is like that. Like blindness. Like ceasing to exist. Like floating around as a fog of non-sentient particles, not destined to wrap themselves together in the womb, but will anyways, once the force of existence is pulled upon them. I cannot picture blindness, and I cannot fathom anything but consciousness, and yet, one day these vibrant particles will extinguish. Death happens to everybody, I suppose, but oblivion greets no one, because she and life cannot coexist; we cannot see blindness and we cannot experience oblivion. We can get close, cling to the last axons firing with sweaty, trembling fingers despite our rapidly slowing hearts, but just before we touch her, we’re gone.