You're walking out of your doctor's office. In your mind you keep replaying the part of conversation where you were just told that you have 3 weeks left to live.
Stop and ask yourself these questions. Take your time. We'll wait.
Who do you call? Where do you go? How do you choose to spend your time?
Now ask yourself this: How much would another day, another week, or another year be worth to you? The answer is "everything". It's impossible to put a tangible value on that time. It's immeasurable.
So here's the thing - if those extra days are worth so much if they are your last, what's today worth? Is it worth less than an extra day at the end?
When you think about it that way, the answer is "of course not".
Realize that whatever you're doing today, you are literally trading away a day of your life for it.
Wise beyond his years.
Now, let's rewind the clock. Have you ever watched a young child get excited? Two things are immediately noticeable; The level of pure, uninhibited excitement that they express, and the utterly commonplace things that cause that excitement. Watch a child's reaction to the unexpected good news of getting an ice cream cone, and you might think that he just won the Powerball.
We took our 3 year old son to an event called Touch-A-Truck, where you pay $5 to enter a roped off parking lot full of construction equipment and municipal trucks. When he saw the parking lot he got so excited that he was shaking, and lost the ability to talk, or even make sounds. When's the last time you felt that way? I'm not sure I'm still capable of excitement on that level.
Of course this much unbridled happiness has it's dark side. If you've ever experienced a toddler melt down into a snot and tear covered ball of sadness and rage, because of a balloon he got 6 months ago is missing, you've also witnessed the completely irrational overreaction to bad news that isn't even bad news.
Somewhere along the way, we are supposed to learn to temper and control our emotions. And yes, this is a good thing. The world doesn't need more assholes treating restaurant staff like inhuman pieces of garbage. Yet, most of us are not reaching a zen-like state of calm achieved through a fully functioning internal system of accepting reality.
Why? The answer is simple. It's much easier to teach and to practice inhibition than it is to teach and practice acceptance. It's much easier to say "Don't do that", than it is to say, "Do this instead. Here, let me show you how."
This is the easy path.
It is the siren song leading us to trade in our lives for Tyler-Durden-esque rewards of IKEA furniture and a used Audi. It ends in a horrible, horrible place that has given us bullshit like QVC, purple camouflage clothing, The Kardashians, and seemingly endless variations of "Keep Calm and Insert-The-Dumbest-Fucking-Thing-You-Can-Think-Of On" shirts.
There can be no darkness without light
Triumph & Failure. Joy & Sadness. Love & Misery. Life & Death.
Like light and dark, opposites depend on each other for their existence. They can not exist alone. Failure is what makes triumph truly great. The entire Hero's Journey is built upon overcoming failure. We are irresistibly drawn to these stories of opposites.
But the easy path shuns opposites. It's rooted in the paradigm of walking the fine middle line between them. Take the steady path. Avoid pain. Avoid risk. Plan for the future. Color inside the lines.
The easy path is the path of fear.
The Quadraphonic Blaupunkt
This is a simple game. You throw the ball. You catch the ball. You hit the ball.
The fear of touching the darkness keeps us from walking in the light. It produces only one thing, which it will produce in abundance. That thing is regret. Faced with this mounting burden, we look for the joy of a reward. While the only true reward is overcoming the fear of regret, we grasp at the reward of material possession because we confuse comfort with happiness.
Comfort is easier than happiness. The excitement of an ice cream cone has long gone numb, but how does a big screen tv sound? You can even tell everyone on Facebook about it, and reaffirm what a good job you have done to earn it.
But deep down, you know the truth. Maybe you only get a glimpse of it at night, when it's dark and quiet, and you're alone. When there's no one to lie to, and the quiet makes it near impossible to lie to yourself. You know you don't need a quadraphonic Blaupunkt. What you need is a curveball. Because in the show, everyone can hit heat.
Life is a fatal condition
"We understand death for the first time when he puts his hand upon someone we love" -Germaine de Staël
If you've listened to someone tell you their regrets, only when it is finally too late for them to take action, you have borne witness to a true tragedy.
We know that when we have touched the darkness, the light becomes sweeter. This is truest in Life and Death. When you have witnessed the Pale Rider sweep his scythe through a soul, the value of life becomes immediately and totally apparent. In an instant, everything previously taken for granted fades away, leaving only the singularity of truth. The truth that in the end, none of the bullshit matters. This is the beautiful and generous gift of Death.
Do not give up the fight. Do not choose the easy path. Embrace Death and thank him for the eye opening gift of appreciation of every single minute above ground. Learn from those who have been imprisoned by fear and regret. Do not make their mistake.
Get out there and Die Living.