Friday, January 15, 2016

It's Now Or Never

In less than a month, Alan Rickman, David Bowie and Lemmy have all died of cancer. Seriously, fuck cancer.

Celebrity death is a weird thing. So many people mourning for somebody they don't know. I've never been much impacted by celebrity death with the exception of David Bowie. I know that the deaths of Lemmy and Alan Rickman will have impacted others in a similar way, though. The death of Robin Williams had a similar impact at the time and from time to time I still hear people speak of it. The fans will speak of it and mourn for the rest of their lives. Mourn a man they never knew.

Strange, but it does make sense. While a celebrity's fans can't generally say they know the celebrity personally, celebrities put themselves out there and create these strange one way relationships with their audience. Their fans know about them, sometimes in frightening detail, and feel connected to them while acknowledging that it will not be reciprocated with the same devotion. Thus when one dies, it's like millions of people have lost a close friend that never knew they existed.

There's another reason, I think, that certain celebrity deaths hit so hard. Sometimes a person appears to be or gives the impression of being larger than life and more than human. Somebody so popular, so talented, so loved simply can not die because dying is so mundane. Or perhaps their presence in the world, in our minds and hearts, is so constant and so irreplaceable that imagining a world without them is an insane notion. They are so close to the centre of our world that they must be near the centre of the world and without them, the world would not turn.

But it's not true. Death is the great equalizer, it comes at any time, any place and doesn't care about wealth and fame and fans and love.

And yet...

And yet it's so easy to fall for the illusion of immortality. All it takes is to not think about death for us to begin to think we never will die. It's understandable. Imagining a world without us is like imagining a new colour. The act of imagining that world is the act of perceiving something that we cannot perceive. We will not see a world without us and to try and see that world, even in our mind, is a contradiction. Trying to comprehend our death and trying to comprehend death's apathy to us is, needless to say, uncomfortable. So we brush it aside and go on with the notion that we are eternal for as long as we can.

But the older one gets, the harder it is to maintain ignorance. Everytime somebody around us dies, it's a shock to the system. It thrusts a very personal death into our faces and makes us acknowledge our own mortality. Surely if a cultural giant and living legend like David Bowie can die, then little old me must die too, in my time.

And I will.

And you will.

Be certain now that your time is running out. You may live another hundred years from this day, but the clock is ticking and you will die.

And perhaps while death is so much on our minds, we should really try to remember that our death is coming. Let's not slip back into that illusion of immortality. Let's not pretend we are going to be the exception to the rule.

Writing takes a long time. It takes a long time to learn, it takes a long time to get good at it and it takes a long time to produce a work. Personally, I take far too long to write a book. It can also take a long time for your work to find an audience, for it to make you any money, for it to earn out its advance or turn a profit over its expenses. It takes a long time to build a career. The sooner you start work on any of these things, the sooner you will complete them and the sooner you can achieve your goals.

Do not wait. Do not procrastinate. Decide what you want to do in life, decide what you want to achieve and then do it. Make it happen. Strive for it and do not stop until you're there. Do not watch one more video on YouTube, refresh your Twitter feed one more time, or play one more match of League of Legends.

Stop making excuses and make time. Stop thinking about it and do it. Stop imagining you're there and get moving.

Take this time now, when confronted with the cold truth of mortality, and be motivated by it. Everything you want to do with your life is limited by time and none of us know when time will be up.

And then watch another YouTube video, check your Twitter feed and play a game of League of Legends. You should enjoy your life, you should have fun and be distracted by simple amusements. You don't want to burn out. If you've only got one life, you should enjoy it. It's okay to do something just for the joy of it and not to accomplish more.

And then get back to work. Time is short, after all.

What I'm saying is take control of your life. Do the things you want to do, but whatever you do, don't be idle and don't let your dreams slip away. When you look back at your life from your death bed, will you be satisfied to say "I binge watched six seasons of Supernatural every month," or do you want to say "I had a book to write and I wrote it."

Decide now.

When I woke up this morning, death was in the news again. As I do every morning, I put on some music to listen to as I began my day. Today the most appropriate song came courtesy of Bon Jovi. I'd like to leave you with a few lines from that song. Take them, think them, decide and act.

"It's my life, it's now or never. I ain't gonna live forever. I just want to live while I'm alive."

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