Death and the End of All Things

Yeah, I know, that’s a rather heavy title I’ve chosen.

Believe it or not, the inspiration for this post comes from the end of a YouTube channel I’ve been watching.

As I’ve mentioned before, I’m very fond of Let’s Plays and video game walkthroughs. One of my favorite Let’s Players is this dude named Markiplier. (If you haven’t heard of him, that’s totally fine. All you need to know is that he’s a bombastic personality that usually makes an utter goof of himself as he plays games.) This past year, Markiplier and one of his fellow YouTubers created a channel called “Unus Annus.”

Though the name made me guffaw once or twice, it is actually supposed to denote the Latin for the phrase “One Year.”

The concept behind the channel is that Markiplier and his friend would keep it going, uploading a video a day (which is quite a feat) for one whole year. At the conclusion of that year, they would delete the channel, and all its content would be gone.

The majority of their videos were crazy antics and hilarious hijinks (like making breakfast using nothing but sex toys as utensils, getting pepper sprayed in the face, or bobbing for foods other than apples in a tub of water). But despite the juvenile nature of the videos, they made for the most enjoyable entertainment to watch during the quick twenty minutes I’d take to eat my lunch while working.

I grew to be quite fond of watching their videos, and I’d tune in regularly whenever a new one got uploaded. However, they made good on their promise, and when their one year was up, they held a livestream so fans could count down the final hours of their channel before deleting it permanently.

And then it was just gone.

I watched the livestream good-naturedly, more than willing to observe the end of something that had become part of my daily ritual. And when it was over, I went to bed that night with no qualms or bouts of sadness.

But on waking up, after working a bit in the morning, right when lunch rolled around, it finally hit me. It was just gone. No rewatching it for me. No new content for my lunch break. Nothing.

And it was that, a silly YouTube channel ending, that got me seriously thinking about dying.

Stupid, I know.

Books and games have frequently given me my most poignant thoughts about death. When a character I’ve gone on a journey with for however many hours of gameplay or pages I’ve turned just ceases to be, there’s always a moment of pause.

But whenever I actually stop and think about dying myself, I typically fixate on the little things. I think about movies I’ll never get to see. Sweaters I’ll never get to wear again. Conversations I might never have.

My “big” thoughts on death occur at night, when I’m trying to fall asleep and my mind is all, nah, you can stay up a few more hours. That’s when I get my what-happens-after-I-die thinking time in. There are practically an infinite number of things that could happen after you die. You could just cease to be, with your mind/soul/whatever just not existing anymore. You could become a ghost that haunts people. There could be a heaven. There could be an alternate dimension where you get to live life as a bunny creature until you die in that dimension and have to move to another dimension where you life as a cricket. You could be reincarnated. You could join in with a hivemind collective of other people who have died that just roams the universe.

It’s just this massive unknown.

And as of this writing, it does not terrify me.

I can see why it terrifies some people. Not existing is a pretty freaky idea. But I’m filled with unadulterated curiosity. And seeing death as inevitable just kind of heightens that.

I still feel embarrassed that a simple YouTube channel got me thinking about what it’s going to be like when I die, but you don’t get to pick and choose when you question your own mortality.

That said, that YouTube channel did perfectly illustrate that age-old, over-used saying about living life to its fullest. Those two YouTubers wasted no time and spared no expense to create the craziest content for their one year.

Eventually, life as I know it is going to be changed irrevocably, perhaps just erased off the face of the earth, so I want to spend every day I’m alive being happy. Or at least trying to be happy.

No, I’m not going to take up skydiving or other thrilling hobbies.

But I am going to try enjoying the best moments of my life, no matter how small.

Mourning a Stranger

Every so often, a celebrity dies, and the world expresses its sorrow that they’re gone.

I can sympathize with those who get saddened when famous people they liked die. My friend Mia got legitimately sad when Leonard Nimoy passed away because she had spent countless hours watching the original series of Star Trek. She had even shown me the entire series not a month before he died.

But I used to get the feeling that people jump on these glorified condolence bandwagons just to be a part of it.

Self-proclaimed fans will flock to Twitter to tweet about how much they will miss a person they have never even met. Does it never strike them as strange?

I was mildly perplexed, and a tad annoyed if I’m being honest, about this trend until the recent passing of Stan Lee.

His work impacted me in ways I can’t even impart to you.

And when he died, I felt an inexplicable sense of loss.

I mean, I didn’t know Stan Lee personally. I never even shook his hand or saw him in a crowd. He was a name on a page, a picture in a book, a cameo in a movie.

But his death shook me.

Being the analytical dweeb that I am, I spent some time thinking about why it was affecting me so much, so much that I even reached out to those people on Twitter I had previously disparaged.

Why I cared so much about Stan Lee’s passing boiled down to three things: how long I had associated Stan Lee’s work with my favorite comic books, how much I appreciated Stan Lee’s work for what it was, and how desperately I relied on Stan Lee’s work to find meaning in my life.

I have read comic books since I was nine years old, and heroes like Spider-Man always featured heavily in my reading selections. Super heroes have always been a concept I could get behind, even as an adult. Stan Lee’s heroes in particular taught me so much. Not how to punch or anything like that. But that even a nerd who wasn’t the best-looking person around, could be the coolest hero around.

And that maybe spiders weren’t too scary.

And his work eased me into comic books before I started reading the darker, more mature stuff. In a way, he introduced me to the format of a comic book.

Anyway, this line of thinking took a turn for the morbid, and I actually started fretting, for weeks, about all the people I admire and how devastated I will be if they die before me. It was like a slide I couldn’t jump off of.

Side note: Thinking about mortality in this manner sucks. Don’t do it.

So after another few weeks spent flipping through Alan Moore’s graphic novels, reading Stephen King’s early works, and listening to nothing but John Williams’ soundtracks, I finally took a chill pill.

I just realized how lucky I am to have these kinds of people existing in the universe at all.

And how lucky I am to not be alone in my fandom for them.

Talking about the End

Every pet owner has to talk about the eventuality that, one day, their pet will pass away. It is a sobering contemplation. I don’t believe that anyone likes the idea that their faithful companion won’t always be around.

As a regular cockatiel, Froley has about twenty to twenty-five years to his lifespan. I got Froley as a very young bird. He was under six months old when I got him at a run-of-the-mill Petco back in 2009. The reason I know he was that young was because his face was covered in grey feathers.

Typically, female cockatiels have duller faces than males, with grey feathers muting whatever color they might have had. When I first got Froley, I seriously thought he was a woman. What I didn’t know was that all young cockatiels, no matter their sex, start out with a grey face. It’s only after six months of maturing that males start to sport their bright yellow and red cheeks.

So Froley was definitely under the six-month mark when I got him. And seeing as how it’s now 2018, I can estimate that Froley is about nine years old.

Froley in my shirt
Hey there

As he nears middle age, I can’t help thinking about what I’m going to do when he dies. It’s like this pit that I can’t seem to stop myself from jumping into. Froley means a shit-ton to me. He’s the first pet I’ve ever cared for on my own. He’s probably the only pet who has ever adored me the way I adore him. (At least I’m pretty sure he adores me.) You can probably tell from the cover image of this blog that I’m kind of obsessed with him.

When I think about Froley dying, I’m overwhelmed by this feeling of premature sorrow. It’s like I’m already missing him. I once told my sister that after Froley dies, I’m never going to get another cockatiel ever again. No other bird could ever replace him. She looked me straight in the eye and told me I was being stupid. Said that it would be a shame to deny another bird a chance to have a competent bird owner.

(My sister is too kind sometimes.)

My sister then reminded me that Froley is living the good life, a life he might not have had if someone else had picked him up from Petco instead of me. I’ve gotten him three cages, one for short trips around town, one for his bedtime, and his main domicile. He has a strictly healthy bird diet with the occasional treat. He has more toys than he knows what to do with, and I switch them out monthly so that he’s never bored with his surroundings. I let him take showers with me, and if he wants to take a bath too, I hum his favorite bath-time song while he rolls around in the water (“Little April Shower” fromĀ Bambi). He also gets to cuddle with me whenever he wants to (except when I’m working). I let him climb onto my neck as I’m laying down, and he’ll stay there, fluffed up and happy.

Froleybird on my neck

I shouldn’t be dreading Froley’s passing when he’s currently right in front of me, totally not about to poop on my keyboard ohmygodFroleypleasedonotsquatrighttherethatisnotapoopingplaceohdearlordohheck…

I love Froley, and I’ll be sad when he’s gone. But I’m happy he is here right now. He has changed my life in such a large way for such a small bird.