What does it mean, “Your divorce was amicable.” ? When someone tells me that, I think: liar. How does that happen? And don’t think I don’t ask.
“Was it just, you guys woke up and looked at each other and said, ‘ok, that’s it’ “and then it was all good after that? You just moved out and started having sex with other people?”
“Well, no, but…”
And I never get an answer. You never hear about the car tearing into the street, the spouse screaming and running after it, the lights going on in the houses up and down the street, the kids nervous in their beds, the police, the aftermath, the sun, the dawn, the burn, the hole in the wall, the door, the mothership landing, the blaze of lights, the feeling, ‘am I ever going to see my kids again’, the feeling: ‘are their lives ruined now because of this?’ “
“It was amicable.” What is amicable? Friendly? Your stuff here, my stuff there. You can have that scented candle. I’m going to take this book about baseball. You can have that painting with the sunrise. I’ll take this painting of the rain.
It’s like breakups. When are breakups amicable. If you’ve gone on a date or two , sure. I’ve had that. Where you go on a date or two, everyone is kissing, and then someone calls and nobody answers. And then someone calls 20 times in a half hour period and nobody answers (that would be me…calling) and then some more calls and finally, “was that you calling?” Yeah, I’ve had those “breakups” but they don’t count.
“No man, we were just too young.”
Doesn’t that make it bloodier? Like, you’re less mature so you actually start beating on each other.
And it doesn’t just apply to marriages. It applies to business breakups. Like, “we were partners but we didn’t really see eye to eye so we went our own ways.”
No you didn’t!
It’s not like one of you was on a ladder and the other on the floor so you didn’t see “eye to eye” and now one of you had to leave and the other stuck around to build a business. What happened?
People lie to me all the time. They lie, lie, lie.
Well, you can say, it’s none of your business.
But it is!
I’m human. I want to know. There’s only so many experiences I can have that can teach me about life. I want to know how you guys broke up and ended things. I want to know how that business didn’t work out. I want to know about when you cried because you thought the world was going to come crashing down on you.
We’re so used to thinking about the past and the future but never the present. But what if suddenly the past and the future are stripped from you. The past because it’s too painful. The future because all of the dreams and expectations you had no longer exist. You’re no longer going to grow older with that person, you’re no longer going to tuck your kid into bed after she wakes up with a scary nightmare, you’re no longer going to build that business even though it was your idea, you’re no longer going to count that money
I count future money when I’m in the shower. Other people masturbate. Other people sing. But counting money I make in the future is a beautiful thing. What if that money is no longer there?
In your worst moments you have to forget about the past and the future. You have to suddenly take a survey of what you have RIGHT NOW.
People always write me, “but how do you take that first step when you are lying on the floor.” They don’t add: in the fetal position, crying, drunk, poor, and so on. It’s assumed.
Here’s what you do. Requires: Pen and waiter pad on the floor with you. Can you get that? I’ll wait.
The past is dead. The future has now shifted. You’re going to an alternate universe and we don’t know which one it is yet. So thank god…you no longer have that glazed shiftless expression in your eyes. You know – the one you see when everyone is walking around the street, stuck in their futures or their past. You are unique for this blissful moment. You are stuck right now. This is a gift to be in the PRESENT. So use it.
Let’s take stock:
A) Who are your friends. List them. If you don’t have any then now you have a goal: be nice to people until you make a friend. List who you can be nice to, Maybe do something nice for them right now. Send them a note. Ask their advice. Introduce them to someone. If you have some friends, reach out to them. Tell them why they’ve been good friends to you. You’re on the floor. Don’t be embarrassed. If I took a picture of you right now it would be just as bad as any sex tape you could muster up.
B) Who have you worked with in the past. We’ve all worked with someone. Reach out to one, two, or three of them in an email (oh, maybe you have a small computer on the floor with you also) and tell them what a great experience it was and why. Everyone you speak to: don’t be afraid to ask “what do I do next?” If you ask 30 people this question one or two of them will have the right answer. Or more. But it also means you have to do these eight other things to be in shape to handle the answer.
C) How can you improve your health today: Start with this list: no alcohol, no junk food, sleep eight hours at least, do 50 pushups. It doesn’t matter if you do one, then rest, then wait fifteen minutes, then do the second, etc. Just do 50 pushups in some random order.
D) Read a spiritual text of some sort. If the Bible suits you,then fine. For some reason, whenever a girlfriend cheated on me, since I was 18, I’d read a single page of the Tao Te Ching. Who knows why? To each his own. I’ve by now read the whole thing as a result. I hope the computer on the floor with you has a kindle app. Most religious texts are free.
E) Write down all the people in your life right now: the ones you can call right now who will say hello and be happy to hear from you. Don’t say “there is nobody”. That’s not true. Even if your mom is mad at you she’ll be happy to hear from you. Or your kids, or your best friend from childhood. And you’re not calling them. That would be superhuman at this point. You’re just listing them. List.
F) Don’t be in a rush. If you were just dumped, don’t be in a rush to find the next one. If you just lost your job, don’t take the first job you see in the papers. How often do you get a chance to be in the present like this. Give it a few moments. You have one month of income left in the bank or you will go broke? Ok, listen to me because this is very important: if you do all of the things on this list you will not go broke. Guaranteed. GUARANTEED. So just relax a second. We’re very busy making lists.
G) Who NEEDS you right now? Kids? They will always need you. They are leeches and live off of your blood. So put them down on the list. Your parents? Your colleagues? I’m not saying you have to do anything for these people right now. What are you crazy? You’re in the fetal position on the floor. What can you do for them? But it’s important to list them. Thinking of them will ultimately help you take the next step when you decide to get up. This is different from “E”. These are the people who have a gun to your head. They NEED you not to fail them right NOW.
H) List your alternative futures. When the future disappears on you just like that it’s a great thing. You used to be a linear computer, one calculation at a time. Now, for a brief moment, you’re a quantum computer: all alternative universes are possible for you. Just for a brief moment play with the idea that anything is possible. You can date Paris Hilton if you want. You can become a comic book writer. You can become an actress. You can make websites freelance. List everything you’ve ever wanted. Have fun with it. You can be a sculptor. Or a nude model. Or a psychic. Whatever. Have fun.
I) Breathe. Whoah. Isn’t that obvious? Not really. Most of the time you breathe a-rhythmically. Is she cheating on me? You breathe fast. Am I about to get fired? You breathe faster. I just got fired … you breathe very slow. So slow you almost leave your body and die. But take five minutes to do something the universe has never really wanted you to do before: breathe in rhythm. Take a deep breath, count to five while you are inhaling, hold for five, breathe out for five, hold for five. If you get out of breath doing this, then stop. Try again. See if you can do it ten times.
Why do this? Your past hasn’t worked out for you. At all. That’s why you are on the floor. Everything you have done since birth has worked out to this one moment. The universe has let you down. So this is a big middle finger to the universe – I’m going to take control of something – my own breath, even if it’s just for a few minutes. And when I finally fall asleep, I hope to god that when I wake up I’m still in the present. The past forgotten. The future, a mistress, seductively waiting for me. Then repeat everything above. Then do it again tomorrow. You’ll get off the floor. And eventually you’ll fly.