“Gather ye rosebuds while ye may,
Old time is still a-flying:
And this same flower that smiles to-day
Tomorrow will be dying.”

~ Robert Herrick

I’m feeling a little melancholy tonight, something that hit me pretty suddenly during an otherwise positive week. The reason for this is that after I got home from our usual Tuesday night trivia, I checked my Facebook as I always do, and saw a post that shocked me.

It was a post announcing the sudden and unexpected death of someone in my relatively wide circle of friends and acquaintances. I did not know her very well, but people to whom I’ve grown close over the years did have that opportunity to share a genuine friendship with her. She was someone who I’d enjoy reading commentary from on Facebook, who was unfailingly loving and supportive to her friends, and really left a positive mark on the lives of those around her.

I think what hit me hard was not the passing of someone that so many people in my life knew and loved— I only wish such incidents were isolated, but the past three months have been filled with such shocking announcements and loss and close calls involving impetuous decisions— but that this person was someone to whom I could relate. She was an ordinary girl, around my age, who didn’t pass away due to any prolonged illness or a drawn-out battle with self-destructive behavior or because she was in the wrong place at the wrong time. She was just an ordinary girl whose heart decided to stop working properly, and by the time help arrived, she had been deprived of oxygen for too long.

It is selfish, but I want to cry because I see how easily that could be me. I too am just an ordinary girl who happened to become ill, to have a scary period in life where her heart didn’t work the way it should. I take medication to keep that problem from recurring, but for a majority of a year, I was terrified of dying alone. My world is not one that involves me being surrounded by other people much of the time. If my heart stops, I will die. I’ve learned from experience that it takes 15 minutes to get an ambulance when you call 911. By that point in time, there is nothing anyone can do.

I feel sad because of how easily that girl might be me, and because I don’t want it to. I feel sad because of the loss of someone who made the world a better place is not fair, and it is a loss that so many will feel for such a long time. There’s something shocking about death when it happens to someone young and vibrant, someone who assumes they have a lifetime to chase dreams, to follow passions, to love others. It is shocking because it’s a reminder that it can happen to any of us, or anyone we love, at any time. There is not always a warning.

There is not always another day to tell someone how you feel about them, or to make things right, or to make the changes you need to be brave enough and strong enough in life in order to be a happy and fulfilled individual.

There is always the possibility that every conversation, or e-mail, or Facebook status, or night out could be the last one you’ll share with someone—or others with you.

There is no guarantee that tomorrow exists, for anyone, at any age.

When you’re 10, you don’t focus on anything too far beyond tomorrow, but you assume there will always be another one . When you’re 20, you think the number of tomorrows you have are limitless, and you take stupid chances and procrastinate and self-destruct, and still come out OK most of the time. By the time you’re 30, you start to have an awareness that not only is tomorrow not a guarantee, that every single being on this Earth, however wonderful and unique, is temporary.

I can only imagine how much more importance that knowledge takes on at 40, or 50, or 60.

I hope I am around to find out. It’s odd that I should wish that more than anything, coming from the girl who never planned to live past 30, who thought dying young never meant having to disappoint anyone or hurt anyone or fail to do anything remarkable in life.

The oddest thing happened. I passed that point in my life, and all of the sudden, life became valuable. Death became less glamourous, and far more frightening, and real. I didn’t want the story to end the way I’d always planned. Now, I can’t stand the idea that I’m not going to be here forever, because however much time I have, it will never be enough.

In “Seeking A Friend For The End Of The World”, Keira Knightley remarks to Steve Carell that she wishes they had been able to have more time together. He responds by telling her no amount of time ever would have been enough to erase the need for that wish.

I feel terribly sad because the relatively small part of the Universe I inhabit lost another special piece, and it doesn’t seem fair that there wasn’t enough time for her to truly live the life she loved. I am also sad because I know there will never be enough time, for any of us.

People often accuse me of being too straightforward. I say what I feel. I yell when I am angry. When I absolutely adore someone, I always let them know. I cry when I am hurt. I want every disagreement with a friend to be over quickly, and result in us still being friends. I follow my heart, even if it isn’t logical, even if it accidentally hurts others. Yet, I wish I had still more courage than I do to put myself out there, to take chances, to say what I feel, and do seems right for me. I wish I had more meaningful connections in my life than I do, because at the end of the day, that’s far more important than nearly anything else.

I realise that part of the reason I am this way is because I’ve spent so much of my life approaching it with a focus on the present, not the future. I didn’t want to be the person who endlessly planned for a future that might never happen, at the expense of experience and life that might happen today. In some ways, that’s irresponsible. That is not how we, as adults, are meant to live. Yet, in other ways, it’s realistic and showing respect and value to life, to the idea that the past can’t be altered and the future can’t be determined—but you can change your life, and touch the lives of others, with what you say and do today.

I know that when the day comes that I am not here anymore, it will ultimately be a surprise for me, and I will recognise that I still didn’t have enough time for all the living I wanted to do. I know that if I’m lucky, I’ll have more time than most people. I also know that perhaps I won’t be that lucky, and if I am, it will mean losing a lot of special people along the way.

Sometimes, I want everything life is planning to throw my way right now, because I don’t know what it has in store for me—and there never is going to be enough time. There is not enough time that I should feel I have the luxury of hitting the “pause” button, and thinking I’ll get around to dealing with life tomorrow.

I have seen bits and pieces of my future, in the form of various psychic dreams and visions. I don’t know how much I believe in all that, but I am not discounting the power of my intuition, a gift that’s served me very well throughout my life. If any of that is to be believed, though, life has unplanned surprises and twists and turns for me, and none of them involve dwelling on the idea of mortality.

Yet, life is so fragile and so temporary, it’s hard not to. Why should I, or anyone I love, be an exception?

When I think about it, there are a few people in my world I simply can’t imagine living without. They are very few and far between, but the world without those few special individuals would seem to stop for me, and I don’t know how it would restart itself in the same way ever again.

Every time someone in my circle of friends and acquaintances passes away, I remember there are a handful of people in the world who feel that exact same way about someone who is no longer around, and that sense of grief touches me immensely. I don’t know how or why, since it is not my own personal grief, but I have a tendency to feel emotions on behalf of others, and it’s not always a positive or endearing trait. I have to detach myself from focusing on many of the world’s greater problems and tragedies because I don’t have enough emotion to feel for every person who is suffering, and I inevitably end up trying.

Nobody is permanent, and that is perhaps the most frightening bit of knowledge I’ve ever come across in my life.

So, yes, today—I am sad, and cried for the loss of someone I didn’t know well at all. Perhaps I cried for me, and all the people I have lost, and all the people I will someday lose, and all the people who will turn out to represent a path not taken in life, a person who might have made a huge difference but never did. Perhaps I cried because I understand the magnitude the loss of this person has left on people in my life, and I do not wish that type of sadness on anyone. Perhaps I cried because I just don’t think it’s fair that we all search so hard for love and family and friendship and connection and romance, only to find out that every single one of us is a temporary fixture.

Reality is harsh, and sometimes it makes me cry, because the little romantic idealist inside of me has never been quite ready to handle such harsh truths.

I’d like to go on pretending there are endless tomorrows for as long as I possibly can. Yet, I think I passed that point in my life a long time ago.

I hope there is a tomorrow, and that it is just a little happier.

I’ve been short on blogs for the New Year, and I’m not sure why. It’s likely the same reason that I’ve felt inexplicably sad, something that started around the holidays, and has not lifted. That sadness has made me feel more introverted and less excited about the idea of talking to people, especially in today’s world, which seems to have a motto along the lines of “If you don’t have anything happy to say, keep your damn mouth shut.”.

I suppose I have reasons to feel sad, and yet, then again, I don’t. None of my problems are so big that they should cause a frustrating cascade into the world of loneliness and depression. Nothing has happened to make me just want to turn on the electric blanket and hide there until the day comes when I wake up feeling happy.

When I was in my adolescent years, I was particularly moody. I was never difficult enough to cause any real problems, or sad enough that feeling “bummed” got in the way of everything I was supposed to be focused on. Yet, there was this awareness that behind everything I did, even “happy” things, I did not feel like a happy person.

I remember talking to my mother about this, who would constantly hound me about my sad face and hiding away in my room for hours. It was not pleasing to her that I seemed to be doing everything “right”, and yet, I wasn’t a happy person. She would ask what I was sad about, and I’d always say, “I don’t know”. Because, really, I never did. I would feel sad simply because I didn’t feel happy, and I wanted to feel happy. The response was, “That’s immature and stupid. People don’t just feel sad whenever they don’t feel happy.”

I didn’t understand this, because I did feel sad for no other reason than not having any particular reason to feel happy. I never learned that most of the time, emotionally well-adjusted people can feel “fine”, “OK”, and “blah”. There was really no middle state of being for me. It seemed very simple: sadness is what you feel when there’s no reason to be happy or excited or look forward to the future or feel invigorated by some adventure or achievement. Perhaps, biologically, sadness is to me not actual sadness, but how I feel when nothing happens to create that endorphin rush that makes you all excited about life, or something you’re doing, or falling in love, or traveling to a new place, or having a once-in-a-lifetime romance, or achieving something you’ve always wanted to conquer. It is possible that I am an endorphin junkie.

As a teenager, this way of looking at the world earned me a trip to the psychiatrist, to see if I was depressed. My family has a major history of depression, specifically bi-polar disorder, so it was a concern. A number of my aunts and uncles and cousins suffer from it. My mother had a strange ability to detach from her emotions, and make herself feel better with food and smoking, which has contributed to her constant lifetime of yo-yo dieting. My grandfather, who is 90, will tell you that nobody ever promised life would be happy, and the secret to getting by is hard work every day, and two Manhattans at the end of it. My father, whom I don’t know much about as a person, is a narcissist with a temper and pretty dramatic mood swings. The only interest he’s ever had in anyone is the way in which that person can validate him or make him feel happy or important. Needless to say, life in my family wasn’t full of stability and sunshine. So, when my mother asked the psychiatrist if I needed Prozac because I wasn’t happy, he said “No. You’re dealing with a highly sensitive personality who is capable of feeling the emotions of others as if they were her own, and she’s surrounded by negative emotions. You need family therapy.”

My family didn’t do therapy, and it turned out that a treatment for “feeling bummed” was to move away, which I did. Yet, my “moodiness” followed. It was less pronounced as I got older, but I would often feel sad “for no reason”.

An ex-boyfriend, who believed in such things, noticed that whenever I felt sad “for no reason”, a difficult life event or loss would follow. There was always a “something bad” after one of these moods would hit, and he chalked my moods up to the combination of my habit of feeling the feelings of others, and an intuitive, almost psychic nature. He took everything in life pretty seriously, and although I don’t believe my “unhappy spells” are attached to the premonition of something bad happening, it often does seem to have coincidental timing that way.

Last year, while going through my illness, I saw many doctors. Some medical doctors believed there was nothing wrong with me, and it was all in my head. I was anxious. I was depressed. I was bi-polar. It turns out, I was just sick, and anxiety is a common side effect of being sick with something that turns your world upside down.

I went to see a neurologist/psychiatrist, a very intelligent guy who had knowledge of your brain from both a physical and mental perspective, but lacked any ability to bond with patients whatsoever. It was like having Sheldon as your doctor, which turned out to be a strangely reassuring thing for someone who was having anxiety issues that, decades ago, would have been called “hysteria”. (And, strangely, I received the decades-old solution for unhappy women with first-world problems: Valium. ) I asked him if I was depressed. I told him about my habit of falling into moods where I’d feel sad simply because I didn’t feel happy, and that people told me these extremes were not normal. I told him people thought I might have bi-polar disorder, even borderline personality issues. He did a lot of tests on my brain and bloodwork, talked to me, and said “You’re not depressed. You’re very intelligent. You’re anxious because you’re receiving answers that don’t seem to make sense, and being diagnosed with ailments you don’t have. It’s tough to be smarter than your doctors.”

He assured me that all my brain functions were fine, that I was relatively emotionally stable, that I had the right amounts of seratonin, norepenephrine, and dopamine in my body, and didn’t need chemicals to mess with them. I just needed to chill out. He didn’t even suggest I find a therapist to help me work through anything that might be bothering me…not because it wasn’t a good idea, but because I think going to that doctor was like going to see Dr. House for your flu. There was no challenge for him, because I was “normal”.

So, I learned it’s “normal” to feel sad just because you don’t feel happy, and to only feel genuinely happy when something different, exciting, and life-changing was going on. It’s “normal” to be an endorphin junkie who thinks too much and feels too much. Yet, I realise perfectly well it is not normal, because most of those around me are not like that.

I have been sad, and I have some tangible reasons to feel sad. Over the past month or so, I’ve lost some friendships I really valued, and because I care too much about other people, that hurt a great deal. Since November, my circle of friends and acquaintances has seen 7 people pass away unexpectedly, and dealt with a suicide attempt. The nation has dealt with the shock and tragedy of realising you can go into a public place, and not make it out alive, simply because you were in the wrong place at the wrong time. I didn’t have the time, money, or good health to spend the holidays with friends and family elsewhere. I didn’t have any of those people wish to visit *me*. I spent the holidays feeling forgotten, unloved, insignificant, and generally sorry for myself. I’ve wondered why it is that people don’t like me, why I am so temperamental, why I am moody, why I get attached to people when I know I shouldn’t, why I trust people despite the two million reasons I have not to, why I feel peripheral to the lives of everyone around me. I’ve spent time wondering what happened to all the endorphins that made me want to dance around my house every time I thought of the exciting possibilities life had to offer. Am I now so old that possibilities and spontaneity and unforeseen romance and unplanned adventure are no longer meant to be facets of my life?

There is, of course, the possibility that I am just SAD. I am greatly deficient in sunlight and Vitamin D, two indications that I may have Seasonal Affective Disorder. I’ve always been SAD in the Winter, but learned to overcome it by traveling and filling my life with friends and parties and fun. This year, that didn’t happen. I didn’t travel. Christmas Eve, I fought with my boyfriend and ended up in tears. Christmas Day, I spent with people I barely know. New Year’s Eve, I was in by 9 PM, and fought with my boyfriend and cried until 11:45, when I watched Times Square and wished I was there…the same way I did when I was a little kid who longed for a bigger, more exciting, more glamourous world.

Maybe I am sad because I still wish for those things, and despite all my worldly adventures, I never found them…at least not in a way that allowed for both adventure and security, for being free AND having close relationships with people in my life. But I think that I have allowed my world to become too small, and while some of my limitations are of my own creation, it doesn’t mean I like feeling limited. It is hard to find friends and family who understand, because most people don’t have that same sort of restless and curious spirit that I do, one that’s always looking for new ways to “feel alive”.

There’s a certain feeling I get every time the car or bus or plane allows me to see the skyline of a major city, especially if I’m there to visit people I care about and wish I could see more frequently. It is something I don’t feel often, but it’s akin to the same feeling I’d always have before stepping onto a stage and seeing a room filled with people. It says, “This is the real you, the one that feels alive and energised and ready to take on the world.”

I want *that* feeling more often, and I suspect the lack of that is what makes me feel sad “for no reason”. I have always had a spirit that wants something bigger than my life, that wants epic romance and adventure and stories I will tell for years to come. It may get me into difficult situations, it may make me impulsive and irresponsible, it may make me a horrible person with whom to attempt a relationship, it may turn my world upside down now and then…but I really like it, and I don’t have that in my life here, not too often.

I think I need a partner-in-crime who thinks and feels the way I do. All of my friends are far more “settled”, far more introverted, far less likely to embrace the unknown. There are too many things I don’t do anymore, simply because I don’t have the people around me to do them with—and, well, I miss that, too. This isn’t New York or London, where you can simply get on a train and have your own adventure. Here, you need cabs or a driver to go anywhere, which is expensive, and even if your friend wants to go out, you can’t just drink and dance all night long because you can’t get home without a car. Perhaps if I lived back in the city here, I’d be a little happier, which is a goal I’d like to see happen in 2014. Perhaps I just need more money, because this is the sort of place where being financially self-sufficient means you can do whatever you want, whenever you want, because you can afford to have a driver take you.

Yet, somehow, I just don’t know. I know I am a city girl who has been stuck in a small town for too long, and I am independent spirit who has been too reliant on others, yet simultaneously felt too alone, for too long. I can’t even pick up and travel for the weekend, something I once enjoyed doing, because being abandoned by my roommate means I have no pet sitter…and I simply can’t afford pet sitting whenever I don’t want to be at home. I hate the feeling of “limitation”. If there are excitement endorphins left in my system, the burden of obligation quickly squashes them.

So, I have not been blogging because I’ve been sad. Also, every time I open my mouth, I seem to make a new enemy, so it’s safer just to talk to myself.

I want to have an adventure. In fact, this year, I wanted to have 12 of them. I don’t know if I see that as a possibility.