Only one person can experience your thoughts. The one who occupies your skin, brain, and the underwear you will likely soil when your life terms out.
We are born into this world with a lifetime to discover the purpose of our own existence. We only understand ourselves by challenging ourselves. Usually that means doing what we fear most.
– R.R. Thomas
My grandmother lived to 98. She experienced 42 years more life than my friend Amanda who passed away six months after she retired at age 56. They both died this year. Their lives were vastly different, precisely because of the way they chose to live.
Imagine for a moment that a giant asteroid struck our planet exterminating the human species. And we all perished together at the same place, Earth, at the same time, like, NOW!
After the planet’s slate is wiped clean, another 25,000 years passes before evidence of our existence is rediscovered. They huddle around the evidence with their octi-legs scratching their bellies equipped with double poop shoots. Imagine that, two assholes. One for fucking. The other for evacuation. Both tight.
Their big eyes lock on to a strange object. They ponder the significance of the ancient artifact that has washed ashore like the Statute of Liberty in the movie Planet of The Apes. A miraculous ancient machine: A Harley-Davidson knucklehead V-Twin motorcycle. And just offshore an archeological dig site reveals a concrete bunker beneath Jay Leno’s warehouse that was home to his classic automobile and motorcycle collection. An authentic baddass machine unearthed on the site of present-day Burbank in the year 2707. The motor starts with one kick – a miracle!
* * *
Yes, we die at different times according to our own individual timelines. It is the strength of our species. Death gives us time to reflect and reminds us of the fragility of our own existence. It forces us to mourn and celebrate, together. And for awhile, it consumes our every waking moment. Then we do what all living things must do. We carry on.
Facing Life Dead On
It was time to make a change. But first I was forced to forgive myself for how I chose to live.
I consider myself a failure because I did not pursue my life-long passion. Instead of making a career as a writer, I played it safe and made a career in mid-level management. Instead of writing every day in a coffee shop with a window seat, I sent emails from my cubicle every morning and stewed like a turd in a cesspool of cubicles. Most afternoons I sat at a big table of engaged actors (office minion) trying to conceal their clenched assholes backed up with gas and bladders about to burst. By the end of our meetings we all agreed to be more productive just to bring a merciful end to another brain-numbing day.
Time spent in corporate America for me felt like doing hard time.
Making more; spending more. Days, years, and eventually a lifetime nearly vanished before my eyes. While my eyes sunk deeper into a puddle of radiating age lines and weird growths that needed to be burnt off with a dermatologist’s laser. Eyes, that sit behind corrective lenses, and eventually see nothing unless I get cataract surgery.
You get the idea. The body marches ever closer to its inevitable meltdown point. That’s about the time we are finally handed the key that opens the door to the Sunset Room where you will spend the remaining years doing what ever the hell you always wanted to do.
I stole the key, entering that phase of my life ten years early.
Still, I needed to forgive myself for not doing it sooner. And for doing it at all. I supposed to be a reliable employee, well-regarded community leader, and responsible family man for forty years, not thirty.
Before I left the corporate world, most people would say my consistency and congenial nature were enviable traits. I knew better. Being mired in mediocrity for decades simply beat me down. What I hate the most about myself is that I had the power to change.
Complacency. Rationalization. Wishful thinking. These were the sign posts that passed me by. I chose to ignore them remain safely adrift in corporate America, another year closer to a better retirement with fewer days to enjoy it.
Now I see my corporate tenure as moving downstream in a wine barrel. It was just a matter of time before I went over the falls. I have heard that some people actually survive the plummet. They are pretty fucked up when they do.
My new rules for a better way of life are as follows:
- I interact in the world that surrounds me and only have control over myself.
- I can only live in the moment and that moment just passed. Yet, this is my place in time. I own it. No one can make that claim or take that away.
Someday I will need to forgive the average man I became.