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Sep 23, 2018

1. Remember you will die

Remember you will die. Maybe even today. Don't forget that. Don't forget to be thankful for your health. For the ability to walk. For the time you get to spend with the person you love. For your siblings. For whatever it is that you have today. It's not yours; it can be stolen away at any moment. So while you have it on loan, cherish it.

That's a hard one. This one comes in so many flavours. Don't lose sight of the big picture, or Grab life by the horns, e.g. It's easy to forget about death. It happens pretty rarely for most of us. We don't go around all day thinking about our next doctor's appointment, or the next time we have to pay tax on our car.

I mean, I guess we don't try to dwell too much on anything painful to us. It feels like a recipe for more than a little upset. Death is the sort of thing that you only really think about when it happens to someone else.

Have you ever noticed that there's a weird peace about people who have come to terms with death? Or their own death? Is it that they've had to start thinking about it, and have thought enough about it, and have reached some sort of supercritical death thought mass where death thought doesn't weigh anything, anymore? I wonder what's up with that.

I might die today. I probably won't. It's already pretty late. I could choke on dinner, or someone could break into our house and commit some sort of violent robbery. Already I'm getting a little upset thinking about it. But like, death thought is teflon in my brain, my thoughts slipping off: I'm worried for Sam, who would be hurt by my absence; I'm worried for the cat, who could be hurt in some kind of confrontation.

But see, this isn't death thought: this is bad-things-happening thought. But death doesn't happen in a bubble. There are always bad things happening where death happens. Even if the pain is up for you, when you die, people are left behind, grieving. Bad things follow in the wake, even if you're not there to experience it. Thinking about the post-death is painful, pre-death.

Of course, that pain seems to set everything else out here in sharper relief. My water tastes cleaner. My cold toes hurt a little bit. Sam is in the kitchen cooking… risotto, I think she said? And it smells good. And she's beautiful, even if she's just wearing pyjamas, and the cat is sitting nearby, watching her cook and just looking around the house, for whatever reason, and she's a cutie pie as well. And all of this looks pretty good.

(Even the car's engine has stopped smoking lately, which is a bit of a weight off my mind. Still, gotta get it looked at.)

Of course, this one isn't just about death, even if that's the part that's in bold, even if that's the note that it ends on. There's all that middle meatus about being thankful for stuff. Thankful for my health. Nothing's really wrong with me. I've got all my teeth, and all my mobility, and enough strength to get me around with ease. I have a job that I really like doing, and I'm still learning and growing. The house keeps warm and I'm getting married, and all of those are great things that I have to be aware will get taken away from me.

That's sort of like, what was it? I think I read something about that's a tenet of Stoic philosophy: thinking about losing the things that you have. As a way to sort of enjoy the things you have more, and feel less bad about losing them, since I'm going to lose everything one day.

But this is all part of some philosophy or another, isn't it? By 2018 we've had enough time to think through things and schools of thought all over the world have come to the conclusion that we're not thankful enough for what we've got going on right now. Not that that diminishes the importance of the philosophy.

Because it's right—I'm not nearly thankful enough for what I've got today. Not like, in comparison. Not in comparison with some people, who don't have clean water or all of their limbs or something—although, I guess that's a good way to stay thankful. But in a bubble, I have to stay thankful too. Not just I'm thankful that I have cheap tortilla chips from Aldi because so many Americans have to deal with like three bucks for a bag of Doritos at Publix, but I'm thankful that I have cheap tortilla chips from Aldi because they're pretty good, and they make me happy. And one day I might not have all my teeth and I won't be able to chow tasty chips.

And of course I'll have learned that lesson by the time all my teeth fall out, but how can I keep that lesson front and centre while I've still got a full head of chompers?