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Month: April 2019

My Favorite Part of Endgame

My Favorite Part of Endgame

We went and saw Avengers: Endgame Saturday morning at 8:05 AM. “We” is my wife, my son, my mother-in-law and me. I explained things to my wife while my son explained things to his grandmother.

It’s a fantastic and satisfying end to the Thanos vs Avengers story. If you don’t care about the Marvel Cinematic Universe, this will not change your mind and there’s no reason to see this movie. For those of us who grew up wishing they were Chris Claremont, Roy Thomas, Marv Wolfman or John Buscema just so we could hang out with Stan Lee, this whole decade has been a dream come true. To see the garishly colored fantasies of my childhood come to life on film in such a satisfying way is amazing and gratifying.


Spoiler Alert. if you haven’t seen Endgame and you plan to, wait until after you see it to read the rest of this post.


Rene Russo as Frigga

One of my favorite parts of the film had almost nothing to do with the main plot. Thor goes back in time to a pre-Ragnarok Asgard and visits with his mother, Frigga, the goddess of wisdom. Thor is ridiculously bummed out about his failure to stop Thanos and Frigga (played by the always wonderful Rene Russo) says:

“Everyone fails at who they are supposed to be. The measure of a person, a hero, is how they succeed at being who they are.”

Frigga, Queen of Asgard

I just love this, and it’s perfect for Thor. He is wrecked by his failure because it had epic consequences but also because he is not supposed to fail.

What we are “supposed” to do or the way things are “supposed” to happen are mostly sources of pain and often get in the way of doing what we can with what we have. “Supposed to” lives in the same universe where life is fair and things make sense. In other words, a fictional universe. In fact, I would say, THE fictional universe that most of us live in. This magical land is very similar to the universe in which we live except that the fictional universe is ruled by the Laws of Story rather than the Laws of Physics.

Let’s give this fictional place a name (since as humans, naming things is one of our superpowers). How about the Human Cinematic Universe or HCU for short?

In the HCU there are good guys and bad guys and, in the end, the good guys win. In the HCU there is a beginning and an end. Things make sense, everything is fair and everything works like it’s supposed to work. If it doesn’t work there is a reasonable reason.

In the real universe, things happen. There are causes but often they are complicated and certainly things are rarely fair.

Don’t get me wrong. I live to make sense of things. I believe that i am here to make the world a better place and I have faith that good will triumph over evil.

I also know, however, that I made all that up. I know that my sense of self is constructed by a mixture of electricity, water and complex chemicals that wash around in a bag of skin. I know that if I believed in the Norse Gods or Fox and Friends or the Flying Spaghetti Monster the universe would look a lot different to me and I would be cheering for different good guys and booing different bad guys.

Not all bad guys are called Decepticons or work for the Dark Side. In fact, I don’t think there are many people who have ever thought of themselves as villains.

The point of this post is to be the best version of who you are and don’t get mired in recriminations or resentments about what is supposed to be. That’s all fantasy. Make a comic book about the superhero you are supposed to be if you want but don’t let it get in the way of living in the RNU (that would be the Real Non-cinematic Universe).

Improv, Zen and a Useless Theory of Funny

Improv, Zen and a Useless Theory of Funny

Eric Berg and I

I learned improv from the amazing Eric Berg. He came back to college from a semester off in Chicago and assembled a group of the funny people he knew and proceeded to teach us how to do a Harold.

A Harold, invented by the legendary Del Close, is a long-form improvisation that usually lasts about 30 minutes. Phil Lamarr, one of those funny people that Eric assembled, recently pointed out to me how insane it was to try and teach the Harold to people who had not only never seen a Harold, we had never even seen improv.

Well, Eric forged insanely forward and successfully created an improv group. I am very proud to say that I came up with the name and the Purple Crayon of Yale was born. It’s still going strong and just celebrated it’s 34th anniversary.

The 30th Anniversary Reunion of The Purple Crayon of Yale. I’m in the bottom left corner.

Amazing.

Amoung a thousand other things, Eric introduced two concepts to us when he was teaching us the Harold that stuck in my mind. The first was in reference to a way to start a Harold. A Harold is based on a one-word suggestion from the audience.*

David Baron was at the reunion and my brother Rob showed up. The sign says “Miss Your Parents? Come See People Their Age Do Improv!” Kids today, I tell ya…

The first thing you want to do when you’re performing a Harold and you have a suggestion is to brainstorm the heck out of that one word and connect it to as much raw material as you can. You need to do this in front of the audience so that they follow along and understand the connections. That way, when you get the word “hygiene” and you start a scene about jazz drumming, everyone gets that it’s because “hygiene” made you think of saying hi to Gene Krupa.

There are several opening games that are used to do this and the first one we learned was the Word Pattern Game. The Word Pattern Game looks a lot like a Word Association Game but Eric explained that we were trying to skip steps and let the audience fill it in. For example, if the word was “blue” I might say “Lyndon,” jumping over “berry” and letting the audience fill that in. The next word might be “baby powder.”

Eric called that a koan or a “zen joke.” It called out what was missing.

Eric also referenced Sartori or the brilliant bolt from the blue that would suddenly hit in the middle of a scene, illuminating everything. Suddenly you would understand the connection between three scenes that had been made up out of nothing by your teammates and, in one sentence, you tied them all together to the enormous satisfaction of the audience and everyone involved.

I loved it. I have no idea why I don’t still do it.

But that’s for another post.

The point today is that I remembered all this stuff after college, I was in Seattle and I was starting a theater and another improv group. I was also starting a spiritual quest.

I saw that my Mémère was the happiest person I knew and I knew it was because of her strong faith in God and Jesus. I wanted that for myself but I couldn’t bring myself to have faith in the divinity of Jesus and, more importantly, I couldn’t believe in the exclusivity of any religion. The idea that anyone who believed the wrong thing was damned and doomed was a dealbreaker for me.

But something was missing, so I started reading. I’d remembered the words koan and Sartori so I started looking into them.

A koan is not a kind of joke. It’s “a paradoxical anecdote or riddle, used in Zen Buddhism to demonstrate the inadequacy of logical reasoning and to provoke enlightenment” (I will admit that some koan’s are funny and they do call out something that’s missing.)

Sartori is not just a flash of brilliance that you get on stage while doing improv. It’s a Japanese Buddhist word referring to the experience of awakening to one’s true nature.

These words and a natural affinity eventually led me to Zen Buddhism.

Here I’ve stayed.

What I learned from Buddhism and from other places is that there is a reality that cannot be described by language. It isn’t some weird other dimension or realm. It’s right here. We’re living in it. We can’t quite see it because we think we are separate from it.

We think that we’re separate from it because of language. We create this idea of the world with language and then we live it it rather than the real world.

I think that enlightenment is understanding THAT on an experiential level. I really think it’s as simple and as profound as that.

Koans are designed to foster the “Great Doubt.” Doubt what? Doubt that language sufficiently describes the world and, more importantly, that there is something called “me” that has a distinct and separate existence. Sartori is the experience of realizing that.

So that’s what I believe. Here’s something else that I believe that kind of ties all this together.

Humor is a taste of Sartori.

Things that are funny are funny because they break down the rules of language. Of course, I’m not just talking about spoken or written language, I mean the meaning structures of civilization.

A pratfall breaks down the accepted and expected physical rules of movement through social space. It points out that we have a language of gesture and position and it breaks it down just like a loud fart in a crowded elevator breaks down the accepted norms of civil behavior (without hurting anyone…much).

I came up with this theory decades ago and I’ve never found an exception. Every single thing that is funny cracks the veneer of culture created by our spoken and experienced consensual hallucination that is language. It’s unexpected or subversive or both.

Unfortunately, it’s not a very helpful theory. It’s not predictive. Everything that’s funny breaks down language but not every thing that breaks down language is funny.

So why did the monkey fall out of the tree? It was dead.

Why did the second monkey fall out of the tree? It was stapled to the first monkey.

Why did the third monkey fall out of the tree?

Peer pressure.

*I remember that the first one the Purple Crayon ever did in front of an audience was based on the suggestion “Vivisection.” This, of course, was an attempt at friendly(?) sabotage by roommates of Tom Dowe. Imagine four Yale sophomores sitting in the front row. “Could we have a one-word theme from the audience?” They look at each other and then back at the stage and in one nerdy, privileged voice they say “VIVISECTION!” One of whom was, I think, the incredible, Tony-award-winning Jefferson Mays. You’d think with all that talent he’d have something better to do with his time!

Comparisons

Comparisons

Do you think you’re better than me? Do you make more money? Are you richer? Are you happier? Are you smarter? Are you taller? Are you thinner? Are you stronger? Can you beat me up? Can you have me fired? Can you banish me? Can you kill me and eat my liver?

Taller, stronger, richer, cooler, more talented, more handsome, more famous, more SuperBowl rings, nicer…but Joe Montana isn’t as good at writing science fiction as me…as far as you know.

Do you think I’m better than you?

This matters. Not how we compare objectively but how we think about comparisons.

As I have said before, human psychology was designed by a toddler and a caveman working in the dark using a sledgehammer, a knitting needle and wad of chewing gum.

For most of human history (the first 300,000 years at least) our main worry was being killed and eaten (not necessarily in that order) closely followed by being kicked out of the tribe and then being killed and eaten after starving. All our modern anxieties devolve to these two fears in the dark recesses of our minds (or, to put it more scientifically, in our amygdala).

We overreact to non-existential threats (like people who disagree with us on facebook) because when our ancestors were evolving there were no non-existential threats. That which didn’t kill us didn’t make us stronger, it just waited until the sun went down and tried again. All of our ancestors had one thing in common. They survived long enough to have kids.

That’s why we pay attention to bad news and ignore the good. Why pay attention to good news? It’s not going to kill us?

Humans survived by working together. A group of humans could fight off a cave bear or a sabre-toothed cat. Humans working together got so good at Mammoth hunting that we killed them all off before we even had iron weapons. On the other hand, an individual human could be easily killed by just about anything with sharp teeth or a bad attitude.

That’s why it’s so important, from the amygdala’s point of view, that we fit in. Part of fitting in is being aware of our place in the social hierarchy. That’s why we pay attention to how we compare to others and why coming up short causes such anxiety and anguish.

The caveman inside us is afraid of getting ostracized.

If you can identify when anxiety and anguish is caused by comparisons, then you can let it go. There is no reason to be jealous of anyone else or to be threatened by someone else’s success. All that stress is not helpful and it’s not good for you.

This is an old problem but social media has amplified it. Depression is often caused by social media addiction precisely because of this kind of stress.

A wise old 12 step saying is “don’t compare your insides to another’s outsides.” A modern equivalent might be “don’t compare your humble assessment of your life to another’s humble brag on facebook.”

Keep up the good work.

Milestones, Timemarks and Fartleks

Milestones, Timemarks and Fartleks

This is my 101st blog post.

This is my 19,544th day on Earth.

My 20,000th day will be, incredibly, April 1st, 2020. That will also be my sisters 37nd birthday and the 23rd anniversary of the first public event that Sacred Fools ever put on.

Unfortunately, it’s going to be a Wednesday. Not a great day for a party but it certainly seems like a day to mark in some way.

But this brings up the topic of temporal landmarks, which have tremendous power. Temporal landmarks are things like New Years Day, your birthday and Monday. A 2014 study by Hengchen Dai, Jason Riis and, my favorite social scientist, Katy Milkman, showed that:

“people are more likely to pursue various types of aspirational behavior (e.g., dieting, exercising, goal pursuit) at the start of ‘new epochs’ initiated by the incidence of temporal landmarks, including the beginning of a new week, month, year, and school semester, as well as immediately following a public holiday, a school break, or a birthday.”

Dai, Milkman, and Riis: Temporal Landmarks Motivate Aspirational Behavior
Management Science 2014

What we do is use temporal landmarks (which I’m going to call timemarks because “temporal landmarks” offends the tiny poet that lives in the back of my brain) to break life into distinct mental accounting periods. We then relegate the old us to the period before the timemark. “Since _(insert random timemark here)_____ I have been exercising every day.”

This is not logical, tomorrow might be your birthday but to everyone else it’s Wednesday, but it works. It works for the same reason that geographic cures and placebo work. Our experience of life is shaped by what we believe and the stories that we tell.

There are also timemarks that you can strive for. Have you ever heard of a Fartlek? Fartlek is a Swedish word that roughly translates to “speed play.” It’s a terrific training technique for runners where you choose a landmark during a run or a hike and you sprint until you reach that landmark. Then you do it again with another landmark. For instance, you might jog along at your regular speed and then sprint between every fourth telephone pole.

It’s interval training and it’s kind of fun.

So if you have something you want to do, set up a Fartlek to a timemark. Commit to walking at lunch every day until May 1st. Many people diet until a special event like a wedding. I know a guy who gave up eating solid food for Lent every year (not a good idea).

Shonda Rhimes’ incredible Year Of Yes came about because she committed to saying yes to things that scared her. She didn’t commit to being a different person forever. She just committed to saying yes for one year. It was a short enough time that she figured she could endure it and go back to her old life. Lucky for her, it was long enough for her to transform her life and, according to her book, she’s not going back.

Happy Birthday!

You don’t have to wait for a holiday or a birthday or the beginning of a month to make a change. Remember that old Frosty the Snowman cartoon? Every time the kids put the magic hat on his head, Frosty came to life and said “Happy Birthday.”

You have my permission to declare any day a special day. Find a magic hat and put it on your head and say Happy Birthday!

You’re welcome.

Three Things I Learned From My Cousin Beyoncé This Weekend

Three Things I Learned From My Cousin Beyoncé This Weekend

Beyoncé

My wife and I watched Homecoming on Netflix this weekend. For those of you who live on the other side of the world or are reading this a thousand years in the future, Homecoming is a documentary that Beyoncé made about her shows at Coachella last year.

Here are three things I learned.

  1. Teamwork is essential. No one, even Beyoncé, can accomplish anything worth doing alone. Grab your friends and family. Grab your tribe. Ask for help. Demand support. Dance together. Work together. Play together. Be together, together. It’s better than the alternative.
  2. Hard work is essential. Nothing worth doing is easy. That doesn’t mean it can’t be fun. Hard work can be enjoyable but it’s hard.
  3. Self-care is essential. If you want to do something amazing you have to take care of yourself as you work hard with your team.

Another big impression is that Beyoncé is incredibly gifted and she works harder than everyone else. She is a total badass.

“Joseph Broussard dit Beausoleil in Acadia”. Oils on canvas, 30″ by 42″, 2009. An original artwork depicting the revolutionary Acadian leader in Canada on the eve of his life long struggle for the Acadian people which ultimately lead him to southern Louisiana as the leader of the first group of Acadians to that area.

By the way, Beyonce is part Acadian. Her mother is descended from Acadian and Cajun leader Joseph Broussard (1702-1765). His wife was a Thibideau so I know I’m related to Beyoncé by marriage at the very least. My brother assures me that there’s probably a more direct connection. There were less than 10,000 people on Acadia when Broussard was born and the first Sylvain arrived a few generations before so it’s likely that Bey and me are cousins.

Let’s just say we are and move on. I mean, I can see the resemblance.

(I hope that when I’m in my late 30s (and have delivered twins via C-section less than a year before) I can look as good as Beyonce does after dancing and singing non-stop for two hours.)


PS. I have to admit that as an older white guy I have no idea what she’s singing about most of the time. I don’t understand the meaning of the lyrics. Like when she says “I took the top off the Maybach, bitch,” I don’t have any idea what that means. I know that the Maybach is an expensive car but that doesn’t make anything clearer. I don’t think I need to understand but I feel like I need to admit that.

PSS. The contrast between B’s strong, implicit message (of female, African-American and just plain human empowerment) and some of her regressive and aggressive lyrics and presentation is confusing. Does it strike anyone else as troubling or odd? I don’t see anyone talking about that and I certainly don’t feel like I’m in any position to do it. Let me know if anyone has examined this because I’d like to read about it.

A Quick Bit of Advice

A Quick Bit of Advice

Sometimes I bring together a few bits of this, that and the other thing and make an interesting point. Sometimes I tell a story about my life. Sometimes I make a mistake and I turn around and tell you not to do what I did.

So I ate some crappy food today and I felt lousy most of the afternoon.

So my quick bit of advice is this:

Don’t poison yourself.

That’s it.

Also, I’m writing a book.

Faking It Till You’re Making Yourself Into Something Else

Faking It Till You’re Making Yourself Into Something Else

The planet Mercury

According to the Indicator from Planet Money, a daily podcast about economics, extroverts make more money than introverts.

According to the podcast Hidden Brain, many companies are basing personnel decisions, including hiring, advancement and termination, on personality tests like the Meyers-Briggs test.

Then there is astrology. According to astrologists, who you I am is determined by the hour and date of my birth.

Does this mean that personality is destiny? Is my fate sealed?

Maybe, but I doubt it.

As an aside, let me say that I am mystified by astrology. What I mean is that I am mystified by the number of smart, scientifically-minded people who know a lot about astrology and nod knowingly when they learn my sign. “That makes sense,” they say after wrongly guessing my sign 4 times before I finally reveal it. I had an old boss who blamed any communication problem on Mercury being in retrograde. Even when it wasn’t it was about to be or just was. She would bring this up in department meetings. It was embarrassing. The idea that the planet Mercury sometimes moves “backwards” reveals a fundamental lack of understanding of orbital dynamics. Seriously thinking that the relative motion of a planet tens of millions of miles away can affect communication is nonsensical. Norse mythology makes more sense. The Flying Spaghetti Monster makes more sense! I could go on for hours on this topic but it wouldn’t be productive.

I must say that astrology does have an impact on adherents. I have written before about the power of placebo. and in that same episode of Hidden Brain (the latest one), host Shankar Vedantam points out that children born in China during the auspicious Year of the Dragon according to the Chinese Astrological Calendar tend to be more successful. This is almost certainly true because they are expected from birth to be more successful. In the same way, an adherent of astrology who believes that her sign is more compatible with this one and less with that one will live into her own expectations and conform to her own bias.

But personality tests are scientific, right? In the sense that they are valid and reliable, no. In the sense that they predict anything at all, no.

So what is personality? Wikipedia has this to say:

Personality is defined as the characteristic set of behaviorscognitions, and emotional patterns that evolve from biological and environmental factors.[1] While there is no generally agreed upon definition of personality, most theories focus on motivation and psychological interactions with one’s environment.[2] Trait-based personality theories, such as those defined by Raymond Cattell define personality as the traits that predict a person’s behavior. On the other hand, more behaviorally based approaches define personality through learning and habits. Nevertheless, most theories view personality as relatively stable.[1]

So personality is basically how and why you behave. It’s how you think and how you act.

You can change how you act and you can change how you think. In fact, it’s actually how you act that affects how you think rather than the other way around. Smiling and laughing makes you happier. Talking to people makes you less shy. Stop drinking and you will be a person who doesn’t drink.

Speaking of drinking, “fake it till you make it” is one of the pithy sayings you might here around AA or other 12 step programs. It’s for newcomers who aren’t sure they want to fully embrace the program. The idea is to act like you’re not an AA participant and eventually your mind will catch up to your behavior. If you don’t drink and go to meetings and do the steps even though you don’t want to, eventually you’ll wake up one morning and you won’t want to drink and you’ll want to go to meetings and you’ll want to do the steps.

So if you want to take a personality test, be my guest. What I would suggest, instead is to decide what kind of person you want to be and then act that way. Eventually, you will be that way without any acting effort. This is not easy but I refer you to Shonda Rhimes’ book The Year of Yes for an inspiring (and well written) story about an introvert (a very successful one) who purposefully changed her behavior and thus her personality (and her life).

Unless, of course, Mercury is in retrograde, in which case we’re all completely screwed.

(But it’s not, at least not right now.)

Honoring My Word

Honoring My Word

When you do what you say you’re going to do as a habit your word becomes more powerful.

I promised myself that I would write a blog post every weekday.

So I am doing that right now.

I did not have a restful sleep last night. I’m not sure why.

As a result I have been sluggish all day.

I exercised and did some work but nothing has been buzzing in my brain to blog about.

But I’m blogging anyway.

Because I said I would.

Thanks for reading. I’m sure I’ll have something more interesting to say tomorrow.

Rules and Convictions

Rules and Convictions

A few weeks ago I mentioned a book called 12 Rules for Life by Jordan Peterson. I had listened to the first 2 or 3 rules and was delighted by the essays that explored and elucidated each rule.

After that, Peterson got more than a little self-righteous about how children should be raised in his essay about his fifth rule, “Do not let your children do anything that makes you dislike them.” This turned me off quite a bit.

I’m not a big fan of self-righteousness and it contradicts something Peterson says elsewhere in his book. He pointed out that being sure that your beliefs are absolutely right and always will be leads to either resentment when you lose and totalitarianism when you win. In a nutshell, if you hold on to a belief and don’t allow experience or logic or time to influence that belief, you will find yourself in a pickle when reality comes into conflict with that belief.

Say you believe that x=5 and then scientists do a study and find that x=6, you have two options. You can:

  • Change your mind about your belief.
  • Assume that the scientists are wrong.

If you think that the scientists are wrong you can:

  • Get bitter and resentful and think that the world is out to get you.
  • Attack the scientists.
  • Do both.

Peterson then goes on to say that Hitler, Stalin, Mao and the leaders of North Korea were/are totalitarians because they believed they were right and would always be right. Anyone who disagreed could not be tolerated.

Then I listened to the last episode of this season of the Invisibilia podcast and I learned that Peterson is a men’s rights advocate. Immediately I got nervous. I’m not a fan if the men’s rights movement. I think I and my fellow men have no pressing need to protect our rights. We have plenty. Giving rights to people who aren’t men doesn’t take anything away from me (as far as I can see).

But then I thought to myself that I was freaking out about what people would think of me based on me writing about the excellent parts of Peterson’s book. That seemed silly. I am writing what I believe. If you don’t like it you can tell me and I will listen. I may change what I believe. Those are two skills that I try to cultivate, listening and changing my mind. I value those skills over most everything. Those and good outside jumper.

The episode of the always excellent Invisibilia then went on the explore the tension between empathy and conviction. If you take time to understand your opposition, will that undermine your own position?

When should you change your mind and when should you stick to your guns?

For me, I like to change my mind. It keeps it in good working order. I don’t think it’s always the the right thing to do, however. In other words, I’m flexible about being flexible.

I still recommend Peterson’s book but not without reservation.

Keep on growing.

Everything Dies, Baby, That’s a Fact*

Everything Dies, Baby, That’s a Fact*

Notre Dame Cathedral

There is a list of songs that always makes me cry every time I hear them. It’s an odd list. Here it is:

  • When I Was a Boy, Dar Williams
  • Solsbury Hill, Peter Gabriel
  • She Used To Be Mine, Jesse Mueller (From the musical Waitress)

There are lots of things that make me cry. I am a sentimental fool who has been known to cry at a well crafted phone commercial. The power of these songs, however, is kind of remarkable. I couldn’t even type the titles without bursting (briefly) into tears.

The latest addition to this list is She Used To Be Mine. That song and the Dar Williams song are about growing up and losing something. The line in Solsbury Hill that ALWAYS makes me break comes at the end of the first verse and is nearly repeated at the end of the next two verses.

“Son”, he said, “grab your things, I’ve come to take you home” **

Peter Gabriel

Actually, I have no idea what the rest of Solsbury Hill is about. The lyrics make no sense to me so I guess its really 2 songs that always make me cry and one line in a chorus (AKA A Chorus Line?***)

I won’t pretend that I know exactly why these songs have such an effect on me but I won’t pretend that I don’t have a good idea. These songs remind me of what I have lost. They remind me of people I have lost and places I have left. They remind me of times that changed.

They remind me to mourn.

As I write this, Notre Dame is burning. Notre Dame is 900 years old. I am lucky enough to have visited Notre Dame twice with my family so I have seen it. It’s really awful to think that part of that was built generations ago is gone forever.

Yogi, Shelley and my finger in front of Notre Dame in Paris.

But that’s how it goes.

“Nothing endures but change.”

Heraclitus

Facebook told me that today is the birthday of one of the most talented people I have ever met (and that is really saying something). Facebook suggested that I wish him happy birthday. Unfortunately for me and for the world, Gary Smoot died almost two years ago. I closed my eyes and wished him happy birthday anyway.

I have been thinking about mortality quite a bit lately. We are all going to die. Someday, no one I know will be alive. It’s hard not to be terribly saddened by this unavoidable fact but it seems, if you think about it, almost silly to rage and cry and scream against the inevitable.

But we do it anyway.

“Do not go gentle into that good night.
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.”

Dylan Thomas

I wonder if it’s possible to stop feeling sad and angry that people die and things change. Maybe not. Maybe if we didn’t feel so much we’d lose something essentially human. Maybe our fear of death is what makes us creative. Maybe our fear of change makes us take care of our stuff and teach our children our traditions.

But I think that most of us fear death and change too much. I think we are often paralyzed by a fear of death when we should, perhaps, be motivated by it. You can not, no matter what you do, avoid death. It will happen to you eventually. It will. And, if you are like most people I know who have died, it won’t come at a convenient time. It won’t come at time or place or manner of your choosing.

Life is shorter than we think so the logical thing to do is to take advantage of it while we have it.

Live with all your might while you can. Love with every fiber of your being while you can. That thing you were going to do someday? Do it today. That friend you were thinking of? Call them now. Appreciate the blue of the sky and the green of the grass and the warmth of the sun.

Take time to remember what has passed away. Mourn your loses but don’t do that so much that you don’t take time to appreciate what you have.

Love your life. Actively, love your life. That’s what Gary did.

If you don’t, learn to love it or change so you love it.

“Thanks to impermanence, everything is possible.”

Thich Nhat Hanh

*The title’s from the chorus of Atlantic City by Bruce Springsteen. The lines are:
“Everything dies baby that’s a fact
But maybe everything that dies someday comes back
Put your makeup on fix your hair up pretty and
Meet me tonight in Atlantic City”

**I was thinking of working the chorus of Solsbury Hill in at the end. Like someone’s going to “come to take you home” eventually. Then I thought better of it. It was too much. Yet I couldn’t really resist putting it in this postscript. Kind of like cheating. Sorry. And you’re welcome.

*** What I Did For Love often makes me cry but not every single time.