In the high school to college range, as this was an epiphany which settled upon me in time and I can’t remember entirely when it settled in, I realized a great truth: I would die.
There would come a day I would cease to exist. The struggle of day to day would come to an end and I would move on to the next great adventure. It could have been within the next thirty seconds, or in the next sixty years. My chances of getting past 80 aren’t great, and I’m okay with that.
Most people don’t wrap their heads around mortality. Death is feared. It’s pushed aside. Often times, even those who are of religions where death should bring peace, they fear the inevitable tick tock of time, just as Captain Hook feared the crocodile. Always ticking forward.
There are some amazing perception shifts when you come to terms with the end game. Especially when you realize there are plenty of young people who die suddenly. I don’t have script immunity. I could simply not wake up tomorrow.
1) Do what you want the world to remember you for
I’m a published author. Seriously. There’s a stack of 49 books beside me as I write this. It would be 50, but I sold one. It will be 47 very likely by next Friday. People loved my second short story. Even my dad complimented it. If I died tomorrow, they’d have things to remember me by. My nephew and niece, and no doubt numerous others to come, could read what I’ve published and get an idea of Uncle Paul, or remember him as a goof. Seriously. My sister-in-law says “Oh, Paul” so often that my nephew picked up the habit.
Are you doing what you love? Are you doing what you want people to remember you for? If a close friend wrote an obit, would it include half of what you want it to include? Do what you want to be remembered for. As I’m in a slump on my next novel, it’s what pushes me forward to sit and write, even if it’s a blog post.
2) Don’t waste time on filler
So, I’m not saying remove all filler. I enjoy Fallout 4, The Witcher 3, Lady Mechanika (like totally fanboying over this comic book), the Marvel movies and TV shows, and so on into infinity. However, with so many cool things out there, how easy it is for me to sit on my butt and kill hours doing nothing. Producing nothing.
We live in a society (and I firmly believe every society before us had the same concept) in which we have dozens of time killers. They all constitute pleasure. Some if you don’t partake you’re considered lame. Some if you partake you’re considered lame. I fall into the later group more often than not.
Society is a master of time killing. It’s part of our nature. There are very few people where it comes natural to strive for ambitions, and in most people it’s a weak flame easily doused.
3) Appreciate every moment
A pastor once asked how I’m doing. I told him, with a smile and head nod, “I’m alive.” He said that was a grim outlook. To me it wasn’t.
I woke up today. Because of that I was able to see my 50 books in boxes. I signed the copies my parents have. I played with my niece and nephew. Apparently my niece was so sad I wasn’t there when she woke up from nap time (I live nearly an hour away and couldn’t justify driving back and forth three times), she cried. Every time she sees me she gets so excited she falls down (she’s not even two, don’t judge).
Waking up tomorrow means I have another day. I can use it to feel beaten, or I can use it to strive for more. I’m alive. I can strive to be awesome.
4) It’s okay to get your ass whooped
I’ve been struggling for a month and a half. When depression hits me it’s a suffocating force. When anxiety hits me it’s crippling. Sometimes the job buries me. Often walking through the door to an empty, dark apartment hits me hard. Do it for three years. It weighs down. Don’t get me started about when the writing doesn’t want to flow, like currently. I have the next novel planned out more or less, but I can only seem to write 200 words a day, if I’m lucky (I usually rock around 1500+ a day). And editing…I hate editing.
It’s okay to be defeated. To feel defeated. You can’t get back up without loss. Sometimes you’re winning and losing at the same time, and it feels like you can’t get ahead. That’s okay.
Tomorrow is another day. Use it. The good feels so much more incredible when you had to slug through to get it. My niece and nephew mean so much to me because I don’t have any real prospects for creating my own kids. Seeing my books and hearing good things about it means a lot since it took so long to write. Since it was so painful to write.
And at the end of the day, when you embrace mortality, you realize the pain doesn’t last forever. Why not slug it out another day? Why not make it awesome and memorable?
I hope you’re doing well. I hope you have found or are finding your purpose. Trust me, you have one. You can make it one more day.
Love and peace.