By the time you read this, I will be halfway dead. I woke up this morning, probably hungover and grouchy. The kids are out of school due to the weather, and I am working from home. 9:15 to 6:15. It’s not a bad shift. It’s really not. But it’s been a rough two weeks and the next person that tells me “I don’t know how I got the wrong password” is going to push me over the edge. The wife is at work today as well. It’s Friday. It’s cold I’m tired….
And it’s my 35th birthday.
That’s right, Johnny T is halfway to 70. The average male life expectancy in the US is 78. So basically, I’m halfway dead. Factor in a personal and family history of cancer, being 100% medically insane, and not the least bit in the best health, my expectancy starts looking much shorter. Basically, I’m halfway dead today.
But here’s the thing about me. You might say I’m a bit of a survivalist. I am an addiction survivor, overdose survivor, suicide survivor, cancer survivor, and even a hurricane survivor (shout out to all those who went through Hugo in 1989). I have cheated my way out of death more times than I should have. I wake up in the mornings, hungover and grumpy, but the fact is I still wake up. I’m still here. Despite the odds, Johnny T lives.
Halfway to death and I’ve learned quite a few things about survival. So to celebrate my milestone of life, today I want to share a few things that I have learned about survival.
Survival Tip Number 1: It Gets Harder
Often times I have found that survival welcomes hardship. It’s never as easy as you think it will be. Things don’t just get automatically better because you crossed one finish line. All of life is a series of races. Not one race, a series of races. You finish one and barely have time to finish your Gatorade before it’s time to start the next. It fucking blows. You have to learn to pace yourself and not get into the trap of thinking that things get easier as you go.
The truth is, it doesn’t. I don’t say this to try to scare you. It is actually quite the opposite. I want you to be prepared for that. There is always something new that comes next. And when you can recognize that and be as prepared as you can be, the sky is the limit. Face whatever the hell life is coming with. Sure, you can be scared, and you can worry. Fuck, my anxiety and my medication list is proof that it is the human way. You can check your email a thousand times a day hoping for the one that says you got the job. But be ready for when that inbox reads 0, when you ask the landlord if late rent is okay, and when you pay that three dollar late fee on your water bill. Life sucks. Get used to it.
Survival Tip Number 2: Thriving Means Risk
Survival is an act. It is a process. Surviving begins before it happens. It can be instant, or it can be a long drawn out fight. Surviving means making it through some bad shit just to do it again in a different way. Thriving means something quite different. It means doing things and accomplishing things that bring you true happiness, fulfillment, and acceptance. Thriving is something that a lot of people never experience. Some people fail to meet goals. I’ve done this more times than I have succeeded. I’m a world champion failure. Some people will work a shit job the rest of their lives because they have to in order to provide the basics. Some people go through a mundane routine day in and day out. They may be satisfied, but they are not thriving. But thriving means more than being happy. Thriving, also means taking risks.
You won’t accomplish a god damn thing in life without first taking a risk. That’s scary as hell. Without risk, there is no advancement. Whether you risk reputation, or life, or limb, or friendships. There is no thriving without risk. Be a risk taker. Be a failure. Because you will fail. Many times. But for all of your failure, there will come a time where being the one to take the risk breaks the fucking clouds open, and find yourself living. I’m not done failing yet, but I’m not done taking risks and trying to thrive.
Survival Tip Number 3: You Won’t Be Remembered for Surviving
This might be the most important thing I say in this whole shit shoot of a post. When you die, when you have moved away after retirement, when you have faded into a memory someone has at the 30th high school reunion you decided not to go to…
NOBODY will remember you for being a survivor. Hell, it’s only been 4 years since I was deemed cancer free, and except for family and a few friends, nobody really gives a shit. But that’s not necessarily a bad thing. When my time is at an end, that’s not what I will be remembered for. So fuck it.
Focus on the things that will get you remembered. A kind spirit, a giving heart, and perseverance. Be a nerd, be a dork. Be goofy, be an absolute dumbass every now and then. People will not remember you for the times that you fell, but more for the times you got back up and kept going. For the times YOU were a reason they laughed. You don’t want to be remembered for merely surviving. Because that sucks. That implies that people remember to much bad shit about you. Be remembered for aspiring to be the best god damn you that you can be. Whether you reach it or not. Do or do not. There is no….
So as the light grows dim above me (because I need to buy new light bulbs but I’m a lazy ass), remember these words. I am halfway dead. In the words of Cake “As soon as you’re born you start dying, so you might as well have a good time.” Fuck the haters, god bless the lovers. Raise a glass to life kissing your ass. Because in the end, it doesn’t even matter. But today, it matters. Right now, it matters. Right now, we all matter. And if today is a good day, then fuck it, let’s dance!