Appreciating Life By Celebrating The Dead

Photo by Michael Competielle

“There are three deaths: the first is when the body ceases to function.  The second is when the body is consigned to the grave.  The third is that moment, sometime in the future, when your name is spoken for the last time.”

An excerpt from Sum: Forty Tales from the Afterlives by David Eagleman

Breathing is life. When a child is born there is that sudden moment when they leave the safety of the womb and take that first breath. Irregular and short until their lungs fill with air, an essential requirement for life.

We hardly remember our first breath and fear the taking of our last and so therefore somewhere in between, we need to recognize the ever precious gift of life.

As I sit here and write I question my mortality and attempt to determine am I living life to my fullest potential? Listening to the words at my eulogy will it be said that I lived a fulfilling life? And what of my legacy? My children. My life’s work. Will it matter and shall it be remembered?

You can’t quit until you try
You can’t live until you die
You can’t learn to tell the truth until you learn to lie

Can’t breathe until you choke
You gotta laugh when you’re the joke
There’s nothing like a funeral to make you feel alive

Songwriters: Darren Jay Ashba / James Michael / Nikki Sixx
Life Is Beautiful lyrics © Warner Chappell Music, Inc, Downtown Music Publishing
Photo by Michael Competielle

Many people I know are only half living. Their motions not dissimilar to a zombie on The Walking Dead. Lacking the ability to communicate honestly, living life vicariously through an Instagram feed.

Snapshots in time that will fade away if our experiences don’t promote a fulfillment to living. Our minds worry about what our friends will think, say and Tweet. #youralreadydead.

I’m not going to suggest I’m perfect as I am a work in progress. Sort of like pushing a boulder uphill, I’m advancing at a slow yet steady pace. Just like anyone else the second I stop pushing I run the risk of being crushed by that boulder. My own personal adjustments improve daily as I push myself forward, step by step.

Photo by Michael Competielle

Imagine you’re on a beautiful beach and you need to arrive at a spot far away in the distance. You can jump into your car and drive there. Expedient yet why the rush? What did you loose by speeding along that beach? The smell of the ocean, the feeling of the seas salts on your skin and in your hair, the radiating warmth of the beautiful sun.

Time wasted or time served? When I question where it is I’m going and how quickly I need to get there it is often daunting. Now image you had to write the narrative of the experience. Could you? Would you be able to tell an engaging story certain to inspire?

Life isn’t about the destination, it’s about the journey.

Imagine the destination is our death, and there we sit at the Day of Reckoning and retell the story of our journey. What would you have to say? Have you lived and loved and suffered?

I’m inspired by living while stacking the decks preparing for my death. I’ll breathe in deep and embrace the freshness of the air. The changing of the seasons I embrace and recognize and hope to see more.

With the passage of time I find I need to reassess my daily activities. What could I have spent more time enjoying and what could I move on from. The modern convenience of dishwashers and washing machines has changed who we are and how we function. Those activities used to be done collectively amongst family members and that time would also be spent in conversation.

Recently I wrote about writing memoirs and as I think back I’m not really that interested in pursuing the idea. Better yet to create an inspiring and engaging body of work. From films to photography to creative writing daily I’m working on my legacy. When I’m dead maybe no one will ever really care about my works however, I realize it’s a requirement for me to live.

As I reflect back on the bodies of work created by my influences I see a pattern. Each one started nowhere yet they pushed themselves to create masterpieces, and they lived, even to this day.

RIP David Bowie, Nikola Tesla, Stanley Kubrick, Ernest Hemmingway, Prince, Sun Tzu, General George Patton. May your names be uttered forever.

Inventing New Ways to Gain Results

Photo by Michael Competielle

Recently I was asked how I had the ability and willpower to turn down some birthday cake. Being a vegan for over one year now most of the ingredients in the birthday cake I don’t eat. Eggs, milk, processed sugar, butter and who knows what else. As I listened back to the question in my mind of what I had just heard I believe they were saying “I don’t have to willpower to say no to cake”.

Certainly this is a person that lacks in self control and discipline.

Daily I’ll turn down food options that I’ve previously eaten and even enjoyed in my quest to maintain my new lifestyle. Is this the correct option for me? That’s a question I can not answer however it currently is working.

Am I on a diet? Not exactly. I’ve decided to make a large change in my philosophy that drives my life decisions. Empathy towards animals, environmental issues of factory farming and lastly my personal health. Is anyone one reason more pertinent than the other? Not really.

Is it a fad diet? Good god no. I feel sorry for the fad diet types, convincing themselves this is the best thing since sliced bread, only to dropout days or weeks later citing a list of reasons why they could hack it. Why not? Because they probably didn’t make the diet a lifestyle change, and the reasoning behind the diet was probably superfluous and selfish.

Is there a magic bullet that will change your life and make it perfect? Nope. Is my life perfect? Nope. Do I want it to be? Not really?

With environmental issues, sustainability problems and corporate greed, we’ve gotten ourselves into quite a mess. The environmental impact of over populating the planet, over using the natural resources and not really caring have us in a downward spiral as we race to the bottom.

Do I have the answers? Nope and you shouldn’t listen to me anyway. What you should do is look in the mirror and take an honest assessment of yourself. Is there anything you can change? Is there any way you can make a minor adjustment that can incrementally have a large impact?

Are you in control of yourself? If your lacking willpower to not eat cake what exactly can you be in charge of? Are you faking your way thru life cheating and lying to yourself. I’ll guess the answer is yes.

Am I perfect? Fuck no far from it. Do I daily try to address my issues and make modifications. Absofuckinglutely. Will I be someone different tommorrow or next week? Gosh I hope so.

Currently I’m questioning my daily diet and the impact of my bananas and avocados. Are they sustainable and what impact are these foods having on the environment? Probably not a great one however I can tell you I don’t buy a lot of imported single use plastic crap.

I used to take mass transporation to work and for the last eight years I work 5 miles from home. Do I walk or bike to work? Nope as a car is a requirement for my job however would I? You bet your ass.

I’m of the BIFL movement. Buy It For Life. These products include:

Vitamix, Magimix, Jeep Wrangler, Mazzer, Sennheiser

I could go on for quite some time however I’m assured if you’ve bought any of the products on my list…. you already know.

Am I functioning in an environmentally friendly way. I certainly make a concentrated effort to.

“Five percent of the people think; 
ten percent of the people think they think; 
and the other eighty-five percent would rather die than think.” 
― Thomas A. Edison

So how exactly do I invent things to get ahead? Think Thomas Edison…

Photos by Michael Competielle

“I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.” 
― Thomas A. Edison

Thinking like Edison and having the courage and willpower to try something. See if it works, if it does hooray for you, move on. And if it doesn’t work, don’t give up try something else. It’s only after you’ve exhausted every option can you finally saw there isn’t a solution.

Image if Thomas Edison gave up after his first failure. Would we have the incandescent light? The Phonograph? The Movie Camera? And the list goes on.

What does it take to invent something? Tenacity.

Every day I try something new. I’ll expand myself by taking on new challenges and stepping outside of my comfort zone. I’ve reinvented myself many times over. Have a failed? The real question is have I ever succeeded? For the most part the answer is no. I’ve gotten things done, received a few accolades but am I complete or complacent? Nope. Not by a long shot.

What is my legacy? I’m building it daily, constantly expanding my network of life’s works. Does anyone really care? Not really, or at least not presently. Will they? Probably when I’m long gone. Does that depress me? Nope it makes me push my self harder and farther.

Looking back at my achievements there a lot of small cumlative efforts that combined equal something. Am I successful? You bet your ass. Do you know why? Because nobody has to push or drive me to take risks and succeed. My inner inventive voice does that for me.