Let’s play a little game.
It’s simple, ready?
Answer this question:
“If you knew you had one week left to live, what would you do? How would you spend your days?”
Don’t answer right away, think about it for a bit.
I’ve heard a lot of the same responses over the years…
I would tell my boss to go fuck himself.
I would travel the world.
I would buy a big bale of cocaine and a team of hookers to cook my meals while rubbing my balls.
All noble plans, but not really that imaginative.
Others will talk of spending every waking second with loved ones – doing all the things that the kiddies had their hearts set on. Treating their special someone to all the pamperings that never happened because life had them too busy to see a bigger picture.
So make yourself a list. Let’s just stick with a top ten for now.
Go for it. Grab a napkin and write some shit down.
Cue the intermission. Let’s all go to the lobby, let’s all go to the lobby…
Now let’s amend the game.
Let’s say instead of a week, you have a month. That’s still a pretty short time, so your top ten may not change significantly.
So let’s make it six months.
You have six months left to enjoy this reality, what do you do? Maybe the things on your initial top ten get prioritized somewhat differently. Maybe instead of jumping on a plane to see the pyramids, you settle for a month in the woods by your lonesome. Maybe instead of ingesting every known stimulant under the sun, you opt for a 10-day fast to purge some toxins to get your head and body running closer to tip-top shape, so you can appreciate the wonders you have left before you.
Make yourself a new list.
And then let’s amend the game again.
What if your doctor now tells you that death will take you in 50 years, to the day, to the hour.
50 years, hah! That’s lots of time to do whatever I want! What’s the rush? I’ll get to the pyramids soon enough, but why not enjoy some nachos and a Blu-ray festival of 20 seasons of Survivor? I’ve got time.
So we keep telling ourselves.
When death isn’t immediately knocking on our doors, we get lazy. We get comfortable and apathetic. Every once in a while we stop to wonder why life didn’t turn out the way we imagined, but the very next day we go back to our shitty jobs, pay our bills, and grumble about the news and weather.
I was going to stick a quote in here about death as a teacher, but I found something better:
“Look at every path closely and deliberately, then ask yourselves this crucial question: Does this path have a heart? If it does, then the path is good. If it doesn’t, then it’s of no use to us.”
That was from Carlos Castaneda. People will discount his writings as fictitious, giving them justification to ignore any wisdom he had the balls to share with the world, but whether he met a sorcerer who taught him lessons on life, or he learned them journeying by his lonesome, is of no consequence.
We take living for granted. We assume immortality until the grey hairs start appearing and the knees start giving out. By that point, we’ve usually missed some glorious windows to pull the trigger on a dream that was still within our sights.
So let’s take a look at our top ten lists again. Are you feeling frustrated because you’re not sure if number 2 should be swapped with number 3, or do you find yourself staring at a blank sheet?
Is the sheet blank because you have no idea what reason you have to wake up each morning, or is the sheet blank because you’ve already done everything that had any meaning to you?
If death comes for you in a week, will you embrace the sickle wielding motherfucker with open arms, or will you cry out, “Give me six more months, please, I beg you!”
I don’t want to beat this phrase to death, but I need to hear it myself probably as much as you do:
Our time is now. Let’s do this shit, and know that the last time we close our eyes, a gaping smile will set in with the rigor mortis.
A raging hard-on would be fitting as well.