I’m listening to Brimful of Asha by Cornershop (remix version) in an Irish Pub in Reykeyvik. Iceland has absolutely changed me. I am not the me I was two weeks ago, and that's pretty cool.
So. I want to post something. And you might hate it. Okay, you're going to absolutely hate it. But, whatever. Iceland has made me much more outspoken about things and I'm not sorry in the least about it. Also, I'm in a bar and have had a few drinks (I've written in the past about the importance about getting drunk in a foreign city). So, prepare yourself.
This is in an interactive post where you'll play the songs I'm hearing in this bar as I write this. Before proceeding, please play that song in the background (here's the Youtube link). It just has to happen before you keep reading. Okay? Okay, I’ll wait.
We good? Cool. It'll set the mood - like mood lights via music.
I guess a proper warning first though? I’ve touched on this topic, in hints and pieces, for years and years now in this blog. But I’m older now and much more blunt than I used to be. You can stop reading if it makes you feel uncomfortable, which in all reality, probably will, but I really challenge you to keep reading. Growth in discomfort, right? Well, with this caution set, here we go:
You are going to die.
Maybe not this moment, maybe not tomorrow. But this is a 100%, undeniable fact of your existence. Nothing, and I mean this, nothing else is more factual than that.
That's kind of metaphysical though, right? Concrete, that's what you need to hear. So, like, your heart will stop and you will absolutely cease to exist. You, your memories, your personality, your everything will end. And it will not come back. The you reading this, will be a memory, and in time, maybe not even that.
Sorry, but I’m going to keep going.
Your family is going to die (maybe some already have). They too will end and become no longer the current, but the past.
Your friends, your coworkers, Jerry across the street who eats clean and follows a strict no-carb, no-fun diet and ol’ Marge who is just the sweetest and has a zillion cats and reads too many romance novels and books about serial killers, she too will hit the bucket.
Every. Single. Person. On the planet. Right now. Will die and cease to be.
These words I’m typing now will most likely outlast every single person reading it.
You will die and your time on this Earth will end. And, even
if you believe in a form of reincarnation or an afterlife, you will never, in
the vastness of time and space ever relive the moment you're reading this right
now (well, I guess that depends on if we see time as linear, which it
definitely is not, but don't even get me started on that!). All religions I know
of talk about the afterlife in terms of exactly that, AFTER. The life NOW will be
the past - never, ever to be repeated.
I, personally, believe there is more after life here on Earth, and, at the same time, a lot of people I
know don’t believe that in the least bit. That’s all okay, because, all viewpoints share the
fact that the here and now will end and not repeat.
So, you and everyone you know will die.
(Side note, this is fantastic song, right? Upbeat and fun. But the lyrics, man, pretty strange...)
Can it be soul crushing and depressing? Yeah, yeah it definitely can be. It can be so very hard to hear, to acknowledge, to face that everything around you, from the screen you’re reading this on, to the finger your scrolling the page on, will one day just be gone and continue the recycled carbon cycle.
But. I’m not writing this to be sad.
In fact, it’s quite the opposite.
So, you got one life. One shot (Mom’s spaghetti?). We all do.
Here’s the most amazing thing though! Once you start to accept this fact, and I mean, truly look that fact in its eyes and stare it down, it’s pretty freeing when you know your time is limited. Like anything in life, when you really take the moment to be IN the moment, it means the world. The more you acknowledge that the moment you’re living in right this very second is special and unique and will never happen again, the more that moment can really, truly matter. There are no longer truly boring moments or wasted time.
I remember years ago I was having a conversation with my ex
about my ADHD and how hard it is for me to be in the moment – my brain doesn’t
work like most and it’s going a million miles an hour in a million different
directions. Yoga, mindfulness, deep breathing – all of that is useless to me
because I can’t slow down my brain down. So she had me have this expensive
ass chocolate, close my eyes, and slowly describe every emotion, every flavor
that I was experiencing. She forced me to slow down.
And years later, I STILL remember this moment. My life slowed and every taste, every melt of the chocolate, mattered. I was IN that moment and its one of the most powerfully vivid memories I have in my life. Kinda crazy, right? To be so connected to a moment in time that was really, just eating a single piece of chocolate.
So, since then, I've been trying my very best to replicate this in my daily life. It’s hard, but I’m trying.
I'm here in Iceland, doing my very best to slow my brain and take every second around me as, for lack of better words, sacred.
The song changed in the bar. This is what you now need to listen to in order to keep reading.
Play John Denvers' Take Me Home Country Roads now. It's a requirement.
And the great thing about living your life? You make what matters, matter. You and what you love are what make these moments special. I should say go travel, as that’s the point of this blog, but hey, that might not be your thing. Your thing might be to root down, enjoy every moment you can with the family, and grow your children into beautiful human beings. So, awesome. Do it. That’s okay, that’s you and you should 100% you in this life. Because if you choose not to be you, to follow others and change yourself to fit others and society, than you’re going to be pretty miserable. And to be miserable in the one life you have? That’s a truly depressing thought.
Whatever the case is, you will impact the world around you and live on in the people and things you create and interact with, even when your physical body and presence does not. What you do with each moment matters because it will affect all the moments others have long after you’re gone.
So, slow down. Notice this moment right now as you read - this
moment is unique and special and part of the story of your life. It’s 100%
We live in a culture fucking terrified of death. But if we
embrace what scares us – if we hold the flashlight to the dark, even if what we find is
just more dark – it’s somewhat less scary. Or maybe it’s not, but at least the
knowing – even if it’s just more darkness – even the knowing what’s out there,
compared to not knowing, is something. Right?
Take this all with a grain of salt though. On the moment of my death, I’m going to be scared absolute shitless. But, the lead up, how I want to embrace the moments of my life. I can control that. We all can.
This journey across Iceland has challenged me. Isolated me with my thoughts for hours, days, and weeks on end. I have made many mistakes in my life, both professionally and personally. I’ve fucked up relationships, I’ve made poor decisions, and countless other things I could whip myself about (I’d make a FINE, guilt-ridden Catholic!), but….
Those moments happened and made me stronger and I learned lessons and I experienced moments, however shitty, that were mine and mine alone. That’s pretty special.
The point is this. And I hope I’m not sounding like Oprah.
Or some self help guru. Or whatever. And maybe I do, oh well to that, too.
Now it's Don't Look Back in Anger by Oasis. Queue it up!
You will die. Whether you’re in Iceland, or the United States, or Australia or the middle of an African jungle.
So, when you look up from this page...
That moment is yours. It will never, ever happen again.
You have a 100% freedom to do whatever you want with it. To appreciate that moment or not appreciate it.
Live your life. You got one shot and its pretty magical. It’s that chocolate. That expensive chocolate that has every flavor in the world. You could just chomp it down and move on and forget about it like the millions of other times you had chocolate.
Or you could roll it around, and really, really
get the texture. Describe every note, every salivation. Take it slow. It won't last, you know this, but that makes the taste ever so much richer.
Look over to the people in your life, the people that you love and really matter. Go and hug the absolutely shit out of them. I mean it, hug them and really feel the love that they give you. They are in these special moments that make up your life. A billion different math equations had to happen and complete in order to have those exact people, in your life at this exact moment, be there. And that's so fucking special, you know?
If you know you will die and purposely do your best to breathe and be in the here and now and make the moment count, I promise you life will be that much
better for it, however it is you appreciate the world around you. Whatever happens to us after we die, will happen. But at least we control our time until then.
You will die, but the moments between? Dear God can they be magical and beautiful and tragic and gorgeous and heartbreaking.
I’ve been in isolation on this trip long enough. Call me up and I’ll join you in that moment of appreciation.
Cheers friends, I cannot wait, let’s live it up together until we can’t.
P.S. Talk about death and life is hard. But The Myth of Sisyphus by Albert Camus is essential reading if you want to really embrace life and the existentialism of it all. Of all the literature I have read that has had an impact me, this is the one that guided me the most. It’s a tough read, but give it a shot.