Do you know what you are going to say on your deathbed? Everyone wants to know what you are going to say. People say things like, “on your deathbed are you going to wish you spent more time at work than with your family?”
Well, are you? Are you going to say that? When you have tubes sticking through every orifice. And you have an artificial heart and maybe even a partially artificial cylon brain, are you going to suddenly pull the tube out of your mouth and say, like the King’s Speech, “I wish I had spent more time with my family than at work?”
Or perhaps you’re going to say, “I’m glad I found my purpose in my life (to save more dolphins from being mixed with canned tuna) and now I can die in peace. Or in pieces. Because of the amputations. Peace out.”
Why is everyone so concerned with the death beds. Why do they call it a bed? What if you die in the street? Is the bed made? Did you pee in the bed? Did someone clean your bedpan?
Presumably they say these things because they think the most important point in your life, the point when you look back on everything and make a judgment on it, is the moment you die. This moment has so much expectation aimed towards it that I think it will be very stressful. Like, holy shit, I am about to die. What should I say? Did I become President of the United States? (Obama and Bush maybe will have very pleasant deaths?) Did I create robots? Did I discover dark matter? Did I discover some dark matter on my death bed?
Oh man, I hope I don’t feel that pressure then. I don’t want to feel it now either. In between birth and death we’re supposed to do something called “passion” or “purpose”. What’s your passion? Did you do it today? How are you supposed to find it? Is it buried somewhere in your backyard?
I imagine when I’m older I’ll have a big photo album. “And here what I looked like before I found my passion.” ….”And then if you look over here, here are pictures of me post-passion? See the new shirt I have on? It’s more colorful. And I have a beard. I don’t know, something about getting my passion made me feel like growing a Van Dyke beard.”
I’ve done some things in my life I’m very proud of. I’m doing this blog, for instance. I interviewed lots of hookers at three in the morning. I have a roof over my head. I ate fish yesterday. I listened to my daughters over the weekend. I haven’t been to jail yet, except to visit friends. That girl I was really angry at I eventually forgave. Or, if not forgave, at least forgot about her. Until this moment. Now I’m anrgy at her again. Where is she? One second while I google.
Let’s put your “passion” aside for a second. Nobody gives a shit anyway. And 100 years after you die, even if you figured out that whole “robot” thing we were talking about earlier, nobody is going to care.
Here’s what you should do today. If you do some variant on these things every day, they build up. And on your deathbed you are allowed to die without being stressed about anything, passion or not. You don’t have to say anything on your deathbed. You can just be quiet. Jesus, it’s your death, stop talking to people for once in your life. I give you my solemn permission on that.
A) Don’t do anything you don’t want to do. Think about this a bit. There are a lot of case examples: “I don’t want to go to my job”, “I don’t want to go to Thanksgiving at my inlaws”, “I have to stay with my husband”, “I don’ t want to go to that meeting in Moscow”, “I don’t want to have sex with that particular john”, etc. We can go over these cases one at a time. But trust me when I say: there is a solution to each and every one of them. You say, “no there isn’t. I have to go to my job and I don’t want to.” Trust me – there’s a solution.
B) Make something easier. A lot of people write to me and say the Daily Practice I recommend is often too hard. I KNOW this. It’s too hard for me!
I’ve never exercised before in my life, for instance. It’s hard for me to do it every day. So make it easier. Do it for ONE MINUTE today. Just get down on the ground and do five pushups. Park your car one block further from work and walk. You can’t get 9 hours of sleep? No problem! Do 8. You don’t have 5 people you are grateful for today? No problem, be grateful you were able to pee into a toilet with good plumbing this morning. People 200 years ago would KILL for that.
I wish I could print a “Can’t Dollar Bill” and start printing them. The Federal Reserve can make them redeemable for a dollar bill. The “Can’t Dollar Bill” would be spent every time you think the word “can’t”. It would save the world economy. “I can’t get any better at the piano”. “I can’t write today”. “I can’t stand my boss.” “I can’t handle the fact that my husband doesn’t pick up his dirty laundry”. Can’t can’t can’t. “I can’t paint unless I’m in Paris”. “I can’t not go to college”. Blech. I can’t stand you saying that to me. So I’m going to go into this room here and put my headphones on and listen to music that you can’t stand.
C) List the things you are currently a failure at. Maybe you don’t have kids and you always wanted them. Maybe you haven’t written a novel. Maybe you’ve written a novel but not a bestselling one. Maybe you wrote a bestselling one but then the sequel fell flat or you can’t figure out what to do next. Maybe you had sex with ten girls but not Wilt Chamberlain style 10,000. You really suck then. Maybe you don’t make enough to send your kids to college. Maybe your kids take drugs. I can keep listing. I’ve certainly listed my failures all through this website. You think I give a shit about them?
Did you make the list? Ok, email it to me. Or better yet: throw it out (same thing). Today is a fresh start. You think a baby cares what it failed at? A baby is less stressed than you AND it shits in its pants and can’t speak English. Go ahead and top that! Babies are total failures. Do you think a baby says on its deathbed, “I wish I had spent more time cuddling and less time shitting in my pants”? No, babies don’t care.
D) Don’t Care What People Think. Blah blah. I’m going to google this right now. I bet I can find a good quote to steal from someone famous about this. …<about to Google>….Ahem <clearing throat>, as I was saying: Great spirits have always encountered violent opposition from mediocre minds.
I always care what people think. Too much. I hate myself for it. On my deathbed I might say “I spent too much time caring what people think and in about three seconds I’m going to be dead. I hope after I die people like what I said on my deathbed.”
E) Turn off the Amygdala. This is the part of your brain that runs interference for the rest of the brain. It protects you from all danger by triggering your fight or flight reaction to just about everything that can destroy you. Unfortunately, we’ve evolved from the people who ran away from galloping elephants instead of the people who didn’t have amygdalas who got trampled by the elephants. So we are constantly on the look out for danger. So that’s why the world always seems like it’s falling apart (confirmation bias of the danger we see all around us). Hence the need to save the world that always seems like it’s falling apart around us either on a macro level (global warming) or a micro level (I’m feeling fat today). We need to evolve past the amygdala starting RIGHT NOW. So if you feel that part of your brain lighting up too much today, try to think of something positive, like me. Because I care what you think of me.
F) Picture yourself as a useless Nothing. Because you are. You think if you invent a robot that can eat an apple and says “this tastes good” that you did something with your life? Who even cares? God has to worry about that unexpected supernova in Quadrant A87B. You think he has time to read your shit?
Blah blah blah, I’m going to have to use that website, Google.com (it’s on the World Wide Web) and steal a famous quote again. ….Like I was saying, If you are content with being nobody in particular, content not to stand out, you align yourself with the power of the universe. What looks like weakness to the ego is in fact the only true strength. This spiritual truth is diametrically opposed to the values of our contemporary culture and the way it conditions people to behave.
The other day I wrote down a list of the expectations I had in life and still currently have. Some are really hard to cross off the list. For instance, I like when people read my blog. I want my kids to love me. And so on. It’s hard to eliminate all expectations. But every day I’m trying and I feel like I get closer to crossing off the hard ones.
Most of all, I hope that when I die it’s very fast so I don’t have time to regret anything. I hope people say, “man, I want to die that fast. That’s the way to go”. But then again, I guess I care too much of what people will think of my death.