The most fear I’ve ever experienced is when I smoked up for the first time. I thought I’d enjoy it – isn’t that always the case when you foray into an unknown realm of experiences, a world of as-yet uninhabited sensations? With that promise firmly in mind, I’d taken a few drags and settled back, waiting for some awakening to come dazzle me. And when it did hit, I was terrified. It started with my fingertips turning numb, followed by my face… I couldn’t feel the wind on that windy day. There was nothing about me that let me close my eyes lest they turn dry against the onslaught of dead, cold air. Next, there was the reeling imagination: flying colours, rifle-toting Russian stalkers, speeding cars that cannoned me into the wall in front of my chair, and then… a memory of standing in front of a painting wondering if it was really there.

Through all of this, a voice persisted at the back of my head – is there any other place whence subdued voices persist? – telling me that I was losing control. Now, I know that there were two of me: one moving forward like an untamed warhorse, trampling and snorting and drooling, the other attempting to rein it in, trying to snap my head back without breaking it altogether. I couldn’t possibly have sided with either force: each was as necessary as it was inexplicably just there. When I tried to stand up, the jockey brought to mind gravity, my uneven footing, and my sense of neuromuscular control, but they were quick to dissipate, to dissolve within the temptation of murky passions swimming in front of my eyes. My body was lost to me; just as suddenly, I was someone else. Sure, I could have appreciated the loss of all but some inhibitions, but the loss only served to further remind that it was just that: loss. In its passing was more betrayal than in its wake more promise.

Death, you see, is nothing different. Of course, it stops with the loss – there is no “otherside”, no after. And with the presence of that darkness continuously assured, the loss simply accentuates it, each passing moment stealing forever a sense. That must be a terrifying thing, ironical as it may sound, perhaps because it’s an irreversible, suffocating handicap, the last argument that you will have, and one that you will be forced to leave without a chance at rebuttal. And then… who will look through your eyes? Who will reason through your mind? Who will shiver against the oncoming cold under the sheath of your skin? It is hard to say, just like measuring the brightness of one candle with another: the first could be twice as bright as the second, but really how bright are they? It is a dead comparison, the life of any such glow trapped within the body of a burning wick. The luxury of universal constants doesn’t exist, does it?