Trigger Warning: Death / mortality
“I want to be a squirrel,” I whimpered, legs shaking, halfway down the brick road on 91st street.
The street is closed off from cars and is a favorite spot for people-watching, puppy-watching, squirrel-watching. But, I couldn’t enjoy it now because I was flipping the shit over final week. This was my worst week in the worst semester of school that I ever had. My professors were not on my side this semester. I know their job isn’t to make it easy to succeed but most of the time I felt like they were punishing me for making it to my senior year. I was trying harder then ever before but I did not reap the rewards of my hearty all-American work ethic– I wasn’t doing well at all. But, anyway, I was on this brick road watching a ball of fuzz climb up a tree and I sighed hard enough to push a few tears out of. Fuck, it isn’t fair, why couldn’t I be born a squirrel. The jealousy itching up my back made me feel like the critter was trying to crawl into my brain. He seemed so happy to find a nut. To succeed in that moment’s challenge. To be completely illiterate of the concept of time, watches, calendars, birthdays.
It just feels like my entire life has been filled with different complex-challenges that distribute the same reward: frequent and highly-pressured stepping-stones to a successful future. But I haven’t been given much breathing room under the push and shove from one challenge to the next to even organize what success is and what kind of future I even want.
Of course, the other problem with being a future-forward human being is that I’m assuming I’m going to have a life to live in the first place. Not to get all Edgar Allen Poe on you but my life can end at any moment at all and if I died tomorrow I wouldn’t be fulfilled, I would be very frustrated that I spent so much time trying to prepare for a life that I didn’t even get to experience yet. I have seen it happen twice. Ten years ago my Aunt had a massive heart attack out of nowhere and passed. She was thirty-two. And last fall the same thing happened to my Uncle, he was forty-five.
So yes, right then, in that moment, carrying a posterboard the size of me, running up a brick road, trying to finish a project that was due in a couple of hours, that I was behind in because I spent so much time doing other work, and feeling completely overwhelmed, the simplicity of a squirrel hunting nuts and looking so satisfied with themselves made me suspicious of what life would be if I truly took it day-by-day.