Leaning into the Wallpaper

This morning I listened to the Life Kit podcast while walking the dog. It was about dealing with dread. And one solution they offered was Death Meditation.

I don’t know. I think I am on board with scheduling time to worry, but I am not convinced that meditating on my own death will help me learn not to sweat the small stuff, as they say.

What if my anxiety builds with the concern that I don’t have time to line up and sort the little things? What if I don’t have time to tie up the loose ends to this self-image I am trying to form – form and show the world?

Really these aren’t rhetorical questions. B. told me that in the sure knowledge of having only months to live, she still sweats the small stuff. Which I tell myself is as much as she ever did: from my point of view, it being a matter of injecting humor into every experience of frustration.

But then, we never really know what is going on inside someone else’s head.


There are clubs in India, I think, maybe Japan (one of those countries with a culture that we attribute superior wisdom to), where people stand around and laugh for no good reason. Laughing for no good reason – for no reason at all – requires effort. It requires more effort than I am willing to put into it.

Should I be ashamed of that?

Isn’t it just easier to lean into the wallpaper? To press myself into a deep groove of irony that only passes for humor from a distance?

One of my colleagues has a drama project called “See Me”, which of course centers on how each student sees themselves – as mirrored in the archetypes and character tropes of a classical artwork (my academic reductionist view of the drama exercise). Despite the title, I have always thought the project is about “Me Seeing Me”, really – what I want to see in/of/about me. What I want to project.

And – oh, my god – the effort required to create that story.

I am short-tempered this week, for no good reason. But it takes surprisingly little effort.

Yeah. I’m just rolling with it. I am not sweating anything.

2 Replies to “Leaning into the Wallpaper”

  1. When I read this yesterday (and my phone won’t let me like your posts when I’m mobile – damn modern technology), I wondered about poetry and death. Don’t poets meditate on their own death every time they write, in one way or another? Maybe I’m being simplistic (and I know that my thoughts on poetry probably aren’t as deep and complex as yours), but that’s how I see it most of the time. But I can see how active meditation on one’s own death would induce anxiety rather than anything else, and it’s not something I’d contemplate doing either. I suppose I could write a whole post about how sport is contemplation of death (in the abstract and the real bearing in mind the sports I played and hope to play again), but I think I’ll leave that for another time….


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