End Game or Handling Life on Your Own Terms
So from time to time, we see questions about “What about when you’re older? Aren’t you afraid of dying alone?” All the older guys on TRP can verify that this happens. The heavy subtext from the questioner (IRL) being, “Quick! Wife up one of these tatted-up, cankled single-mom bar sluts before all the ‘good’ ones are taken!”1 Sorry, not going to fall on that hand grenade for my "buddies" (meaning her ex, or the government, etc.)
The first problem is an existential one: Nobody belongs anywhere, nobody exists on purpose, everybody's going to die. You may not be staring out at your grave every day, like Morty, but you might as well be. Why?
Because we’re all going to die.
Someday, probably off in the distant future for most of you, the Norns will snip your thread, and the Reaper is going to tap you on the shoulder, and then you’ll be gone. We all pay the Ferryman in the end. Wow. That was a lot of clichés. I promise I won’t quote “The Shawshank Redemption”. That would be too much.
In the West – which already has it’s own set of problems – we live in a death-denying culture, and we regard people who have died as having somehow fucked up. We delude ourselves that perhaps there has been some clerical error in our case, and we're going to get out of life alive. That's not going to happen. Nobody - despite their best efforts and delusions - gets out of life alive. The sooner that you realize that, the sooner you can get about what you came here to do.
The question is not, therefore “Aren’t you afraid of dying alone?” it’s “What will you do with your one precious and beautiful life between now and then?”
Some people find Steve Jobs' 2005 Commencement Speech at Stanford to be useful in this regard, mostly because he was a famous visionary, and because he is also dead, and checked out a couple of decades early:
“Remembering that I'll be dead soon is the most important tool I've ever encountered to help me make the big choices in life. Almost everything--all external expectations, all pride, all fear of embarrassment or failure--these things just fall away in the face of death, leaving only what is truly important. Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose. You are already naked. There is no reason not to follow your heart.
Jobs died less than 5.5 years after he delivered this speech. My guess is, he probably wished he’d tried Western medicine sooner rather than later, and – write this one down – talent comes with conditions, and Jobs did tend to buy into his own infallibility. Turns out he was great with computers, mostly, but when it came to making healthcare-related decisions, he was pretty fallible.
With the end of the Fear of Death begins the Death of Fear.
Once you realize, and by that I mean come to terms with, the fact that you will one day die, that's when you’re free.
I’ve written before about “Approach Anxiety” – when was the last time you think I had “approach anxiety”? Your guess is as good as mine, because I don’t remember. Sometimes, I look at woman and think, “What’s the most fucked up think I can say to her and still pull?” AFAIAC, it's MY world, the rest of you MFers just live in it...
You have nothing to be afraid of, so stop being afraid of shit. Get busy living or get busy dying. I guess I lied about not quoting the Shawshank Redemption.
The Problem Of Relative Happiness
So, years ago, I read a news article about a study that I’m too lazy to try and google about how people would rather make $100K if others were making $75K, than $200K if others were making $250K. That sounds dumb to me, because I don’t give a shit about how others are doing, I just want to advance my own cause, but evidently it’s a “thing” for a lot of people.
Evidently, it’s not enough for some folks to “win” but others must “lose” at least in relative terms. In any case, once you stop worry about other people, life gets a fuck-ton easier.
You Need To Stop Letting Other People Define Your Happiness.
And while you’re at it, stop making excuses. Sometimes things ARE easier for other people. There ARE people who are way better looking, or richer or funnier or whatever. So what? Dwelling on that is just an excuse to be unhappy. Whomever you’re comparing yourself too has their own set of issues. Develop your own strengths and move on from there.
If You Are Going to Make Mistakes, Let Them Be Your OWN Mistakes
Srsrly. That doesn’t mean “Don’t listen to good advice”, but the things you will regret the most will be not trusting yourself.
How To Have The Life That You Want.
So, I’m pretty happy in life. If my life is cool, it’s because I fucking PLANNED it that way. I don’t mean planned it down to every last millimeter, and I certainly got plenty of shit wrong until I figured out how the world worked, but I’ve done a good job of putting myself in a position to do well. Also, as you get older your goals tend to be more basic, such as waking up in the morning and thinking “Ok, Goal 1 for the day: Don’t Die.” 2
That said, I figured out where I wanted to be and then I developed a plan about how I could get from where I was to my goal and then I set about putting it into practice. If you think about the "impossibility" of your task, whatever that may be, you will surely fail. If you think like the Dutch or the Israelis (or so I am told) that nothing is strictly "impossible" it's more that there are a series of obstacles that must be overcome, then you will have a greater chance of succeeding.
Fear is often disguised as “practicality”. Lots of folks go into Law or Business careers because poverty sux and trading dreams for “not being poor,” because, let’s face it, being poor sux.
That said, for you young guys, NOW is the time to be FEARLESS. If you fuck-up, you still have time to recover. Go out, and take chances – Note I don’t mean the kind of shit you see on Jackass, but if you want to play music, or change the game of soccer, or invent a new type of French cooking, this is the time to do it.
I envy you guys your "optionality”. Not too much, because I like how things turned out for me, but still. Oh, and, all things being equal, I’d like my 19 y.o. back, again. Take care of your back and your knees. It’s important. I’m actually quite lucky, but really, strengthen your core.
Women are Dream Killers.
You’ve heard of the famous Wright Brothers, right? Reuchlin and Lorin Wright.
Wait, what? Something doesn’t seem correct? Don’t I mean Orville and Wilbur?
No I mean their older brothers Reuchlin and Lorin Wright.
You’ve never heard of them?
Probably because they got married and their wives nagged them into getting jobs down at the lumberyard or the tool and die and they didn’t do anything cool like INVENT THE FUCKING AIRPLANE. That’s why you’ve never heard of them. Women kill your dreams.
To be fair, I don’t blame women for this. It makes sense for them to play it conservative, not take chances, and rely on their hotness and reproduction value. They also don’t want to wind up widowed so yeah, that’s why you have to sell the motorcycle prior to your wedding day. Have fun with that.
Women should never be your purpose, only a happy accompaniment to a life well-lived.
Self-doubt, drugs, politics, conformity. There are any number of reasons to quit on your dreams and go to a job you hate until they fire you, your wife divorces you because you’ve “changed” or she “changed” and then you die of heart disease or whatever, never having climbed Everest.3
• Stop being afraid of shit.
• Stop worrying about what other people think.
• If you make mistakes, let them be your own mistakes.
• The time to take chances is when you are 21, not 51.
• Take a deep breath…and make it count.
1 Contrary to what people – particularly post-WallSPLAT! women and the media want you to believe, shit gets so easy for men in their 30s (aka your “Dirty 30s”) provided you don’t do dumb stuff like get fat, get addicted to drugs or not ever develop frame. In my 30s, I was getting offers of NSA sex from married women. As in “Come over, I’ll cook for you, and then we’ll bang” offers. Generally, I didn’t indulge because I like to at least hope that I have some vestigial sense of morality that keeps me from doing truly shitty things, but yeah, that’s what life is for a RP man in his 30s. Also, if you’re getting single girls, that takes the edge off. So there’s that.
2 I do, however, know what my “Why” is. Actually my life strongly resembles the film Office Space - a cult classic from the 90s, you should all watch it, if you haven't seen it. More on that another time.
3 In fairness, I have zero interest in ever climbing Everest. A buddy of mine did it, but he’s really into that kind of things. Was always an “outdoorsy” guy. Of course, in whatever room he’s in, for the rest of his life, he will be The Guy Who Climbed Everest. /shrugs.