Before I Die

I could try blaming the weather on why I haven’t been writing or photographing seriously for the past month. Truthfully, I’ve been detached and out of sorts for reasons I don’t need to go into here. That’s not to say I haven’t done anything, I have pages of notes and photos in various stages of editing, all like disjointed rambling thoughts. None of which are coming together cohesively. Maybe it’s thinking about this assignment, Before I Die, which has thrown a wrench into my well laid out plans.

Thinking about your own mortality is, well, melancholic. We all dream that we could be immortal, that the passage of time would have no meaning to us, I guess that is why some people feel the need for children, or to leave a legacy behind; plant a giant flag in the ground that says I WAS HERE! The cold fact of the matter is that our clocks are counting down from the day we are born, we just don’t realize that until it’s nearly too late.

Part of the mystery of life is the journey we take. Sure for some people everything from school, career, kids, early retirement is all planned out and these people work their asses off to achieve it. Then what? After achieving everything they wanted to what the hell do they do? Do these people suddenly after all the years of hard work feel lost at having no direction? Road maps are useful but they can be equally detrimental as helpful, especially if you aren’t open up to the idea of happenstance. Things will happen for a reason, we just don’t have the capacity to realize that reason until well after the fact. 

I turned 35 earlier this year and for this assignment I ended up thinking about my mortality, naturally I asked myself the following question,

What should I do with my life?

After staring blankly at my journal, practicing twirling my pen in my fingers, and worrying that the demolition team in the lot next door was going to collapse my apartment, all I have been able to come up with is a list of how I want to do something. What that something is I have no idea, nor do I really care to know.

We enter this world kicking and screaming with our proverbial slates blank. As we age that slate quickly begins to fill up, school, careers, family, obligations. Then the years begin to pass by swifter and swifter, our days grow shorter and darker, gradually our health beings to go downhill. Then suddenly, inexplicably, we are old, lamenting about wasted time and missed opportunities filled with regrets. No one wants that. I sure as hell know that I do not want that.

I want to …

  • stop squandering and wasting time
  • make the most of what little time I have in this life
  • visit museums to experience breathtaking art, and art that makes me go “what the …”
  • get into arguments and heated debates over what I feel passionate about
  • meet people who will make me laugh, make me furious, push my boundaries and test my limits
  • be alone occasionally, have peace, quiet and solitude
  • read books, even ones that I end up hating so much that I curse and fling it across the room
  • find, let’s call it a pool, take a giant breath, plunge in, sink, flail around, then slowly enjoy just floating around
  • do something to embarrassingly stupid that I make strangers laugh at me, so I feel that embarrassment burn on my face
  • live my life the way I want to, not how I think others want me to live it

I don’t want to be powerful, important or even remembered. I don’t want to lead a fancy life or strive to leave behind a legacy. I have no aspirations to go skydiving, or climb the tallest mountains, or to even set foot on every continent. I will work hard to educate and elevate myself, to live life the way I want. I will seek people and activities that bring me joy, make me laugh, but also will cause me pain, make me cry and scream and shout. I do not want to surround myself with yes people, or those who will work to pull me down; I do a fine job of making myself feel like crap and useless, so I don’t need others adding to it. I know I am terrified of my own death and when that end comes it will have come much too soon. Realizing all that, I will do what I can to fight against the ticking clock, filling my slate as best as I can until the very end. Only at the end will the journey have made sense.