1. Life’s the rehearsal for a show that never goes up
It’s like Milan Kundera said: “being is light; sometimes, unbearably so.” The deepest darkness I’ve ever known has been during a time when being weighed heavy on my conscience, and the expectations of others and myself seemed impossible peaks to summit. As fashionably apathetic as it sounds, sometimes it’s nice to remember that life’s a joke and then you die. We leave our mark or we don’t. We achieve our goals or we can’t. We find the one or we realize “the one” is a reductive ideal manufactured by network television. Through it all, a sense of levity can never hurt. Consciousness is humanity’s burden. As such, humanity reserves the right to light it on fire, smoke it through a gravity bomb, and make 4 pounds of macaroni and cheese.
2. We’re just tiny particles moving through space
You are the schmutz in some giant’s eye. You are the pebble in some great sea of stone. You get it—you’re pretty insignificant unless you’re Steve Jobs or Ghandi or something. Don’t let that sink you into a pit of nihilism. Rather, let it lift you into the atmosphere. You can float. You can coast, if you like. You can push yourself as far as you see fit. Your insignificance is the most liberating thing about your existence. If you really must get hooked on heroin and destroy your family, you will make giant ripples, which affect the tiny lives of those around you, which also make ripples until, three rings out toward the horizon line, all the ripples smooth. I’m not advocating that we all go shoot up! But know that when you make awful mistakes, you are hurting those around you. And those around them. And maybe those around them. And if you’re terribly unlucky, those around them, too. But that’s where the hurt ends. You continue to move through space. A baby in Montevideo wakes up and cries. A cow in Birmingham is slaughtered. We all keep moving. We only stop once.
3. Open your eyes when you look around
I am just as guilty as the rest. I strap on my shoes, plug in my earphones, head where I’m going. I’ve effectively turned on, tuned in, and dropped out. That worked for Timothy Leary, and now the sixties are over. Thank GOD. It sucks when the world moves around you in interesting ways and all you’ve got is an eight-year-old Shakira song and a new text message. So blink. Clear those puppies out. Take a walk sans electronics. Spend a day sans computer. Okay, that’s a little drastic, no? Spend an afternoon sans computer. While my iPod makes runs more bearable, it also dulls the intensely fulfilling sense of exertion. I’m going to go ahead and presume that you don’t want to skip out on anesthesia during the occasional invasive surgery. But to forgo the mind-numbing can sometimes lend deep and personal value to pain, boredom, time. I measure my showers in how many songs they last. Eventually, I want to measure them in ideas and hummed tunes and real minutes. Quite the rare breed, those minutes. They feel like forever when they’re not overflowing with stuff.
4. Awakening each day does not mean living
A fun social experiment: get out of bed. Brush your teeth. Get back in. Sleep for another four hours. Wake up for real. Eat. Watch 2 movies and 3 episodes of Maury. Read a book. Take a nap. Walk outside. Decide not to run. Make dinner. No, order dinner. Eat. Watch 2 episodes of Seinfeld. Fall asleep reading The New Yorker. Repeat for one full week. This is only vaguely reminiscent of the first week of every vacation from school I’ve ever taken. It’s like living on standby. It’s accepting that the body’s just a machine and vacating your brain—literally a vacation from being. Existence in exile from the outside world, as only a consumer and never a contributor, is not existence. It is parasitism. Living as a parasite makes human beings depressed past the age of about 18. We’re not exactly communally-oriented, social creatures, but we’re no lone wolves either. The only way to feel of any import is to be of import. That can mean getting out of bed. Brushing your teeth. Getting back in. Sleeping for another four hours. Waking up for real. Eating. And then calling your Mom.
5. We cannot love another before we love ourselves (Or, she / he who is self-loathing has probably never had a functional relationship)
Self-love is a stupid unicorn of a concept. It’s elusive. It’s vague. It is, in fact, both mythical and farcical. Loving oneself is either damn near close or identical to egotism. This has a lot to do with the age-old divide between self-deprecation and self-denigration. The former is charming and earnest. The latter makes everyone sad and silent and want to take a shot or four. So how does thine go about loving thine self without reaching that slimy self-love status? It’s simple, really. When you wake up, make sure to feel tiny. Call your sister or your friend around 2pm. Take someone out for coffee. Watch the world around you and appreciate it’s infuriating complexities. Move through space. And spend some time loving somebody else. Spending all day thinking about yourself, fun as it may be, has two ugly faces called depression and vanity. Plus, loving others makes you feel great. Until they’re the ones making you feel tiny and breaking up with you. Then you can start all over again—they were just one act in the rehearsal.