When you’re 23, the worries of life aren’t exactly far away, but they’re not exactly a constant bother either. They’re the tax collectors in the next town. The relatives coming up soon to visit. You know they’re there, and you’ve pretty much accepted that they’re going to be here to stay, but for now, you’re determined to make the most out of what you still have.
So you sleep late. You attend late-night parties. You overwork. You overeat. You get drunk and wasted. You have flings. Like a match, you’re committed to give out your final, brightest flare before burning out completely and resigning to fate.
When you’re 23, you’re invincible. You’re supposed to – it’s a God-given right, to feel like you’re indestructible at that age, alongside an unbeatable sense of optimism and a capacity for dreams bigger than the solar system. If you don’t feel like you’re immortal at 23, God knows that you’re never going to feel that way ever.
Except I haven’t been feeling so immortal as of late.
I’ve been getting chest pains. A little nick here, a little tremble there. Sometimes it feels like a cramp. Sometimes it feels like a pull. Sometimes it feels like a gunshot. My hand instinctively reaches for my chest to make sure that my heart is still beating.
I’ve looked up on the internet about chest pains. (What would we do without Mr. Internet, right?) It’s probably nothing to worry about, but the thing about worry is that it’s an inflatable beast, puffed up to 10 times its actual size and taking over your mental space. I’ve actually been seriously worrying about the condition of my heart, and I mean that literally – not in that spiritual, relationship-with-God kind of way.
I also keep telling myself that I must go and check this out with a cardiologist one of these days. I’ve been telling myself this since last October, when it begun. These episodes have been getting more frequent, and I think if there’s a good time to begin seriously worrying, now should be a good time.
I’m not sure how long more am I going to put off the appointment with the cardiologist. I hope Future-Me will come around to doing it sooner than later.
There’s a part of me that has explored the worst possible outcome: that I expire before I manage to see Ms. Cardiologist. The odd part is that I don’t fear expiring. Hell, let’s call it what it is: I don’t care about dying. It’s something we all do, sooner or later. Some of us get there earlier than others, but we all get there eventually. The only thing I’ll be bummed about, I guess, is that I won’t get to tell all the stories I want to tell.
Of course, there’s family and friends to consider, but that was at the top of my list, and it remains the most prominent bummer if my heart pops before my time. Hey, you reading this. If at the end of this, you find out that a certain writer named Joseph Ng has passed, would you do me a favor and gather up my fiction friday posts and publish it somewhere? Get it into a magazine. Publish an anthology. Hand it out on the streets. Do something so that the stories I told will go on.
If I die at 23, and my stories keep getting told, I guess I’ll be getting what everyone had always wanted: to forever remain young and immortal.
But let’s hope that doesn’t happen, eh?