How to Live Knowing You're Going to Die - #96

New York is no place for a person who can't decide. Double negative right there. You can't take it all in. There is something destructive in having too many options.

And so, as with any problem, we adapt. The trouble then folds on itself with our own thoughts about it. We're conscious of the concept of adaptation and we know we can control our destiny to a certain extent. Knowing that means endless possibilities. Endless options, endless decisions. Endless, of course, until we end. We die. No one can escape it or no one has yet, and we're stuck living with that single fact.

It's hard to take it all in. It would be too daunting to consider Death every time you drove a car or ate a hamburger. The best we can do is consider the present, the here and now. Shakespeare often called sleep the twin brother of death. Why not consider our daily death when tinkering around our lives in the waking world?

The authors of A Field Guide to Lucid Dreaming are not all that convinced the waking world and the dreaming world are that different. Sure, there is the disconnect of laying down and closing your eyes, but lucid dreaming, or being conscious within your dreams, is very possible and very real. Some would argue our brains have trouble knowing the difference. And just as we're clueless to what happens as we pass from this Earth, we're very much unaware of why in the world we need sleep and why our brains are producing fantastical worlds in our dreams, unlike the world we spend most of our time in.

Sleep only then becomes another adventure of life. Death, by association, is not just a punctuation mark, it's a vein running through our lifeblood. 

Death is on my mind because my grandfather is not doing so well this winter. He is suffering with bladder cancer and I've never seen him so weak. I'm afraid to even hug him although I'm sure not hugging him causes a different kind of pain. It does for me. 

It makes it better to know my grandpa is 89 years old and still sharp enough to crack joking advice to my brother and I like "Don't get old".  The most painful part is watching him fade, knowing it will be over too soon. No more jokes, no more stories, no more songs. He would burn bright while I knew him, and never again.

I want to take this as a call to arms. He would want it that way. My grandfather wants nothing but the best for me. He would shell out dollars for A's on my report cards, ask about my jobs through the years, and flex a bicep at me to check that I'm taking care of myself and staying strong. And when he is gone, I'll just have the memories and his passing, the thing that took away my grandfather.

We like to think we need a sharp turn to drop us out of our funks or weaknesses. We await the perfect job or significant other. And yet we forget that around the corner, Death, the ultimate sharp turn, is possible. This beautiful life could end very shortly. It could be so quick no amount of time would satisfy you to live. We're left begging for more. And it's rarely on a stale Tuesday do we drop to our knees, it's only at the very end if we see it coming.

I'm writing to do something with my life. If that life is 89 years long, that's great. If life is only until tonight, I better do my best. What my best is is something to decide. My grandfather, and I think most of us, are onto something if someone mourns us when we die. If we tried our best to make the most positive contributions to others during our time, our life was worth living. It could have been by invention, laughs, relationships, words, hugs, or charity, there is always something to give the rest of the world while we're here. Henry Scharch makes me a better person just by showing me how to focus on the important details. 

The New Year is coming and a new change needs to happen. It's not some grandiose plan, it's a simple mental switch. Life is too short to hate yourself or fall short. Life is about connection and explosion. We are the only species in this world that can grow beyond our means. We have no idea about the limits of our potential, we just adapt and move on. And I believe, if anything, that's the New Years resolution we can all learn to live by.

Until next time...
I explode into space.