In the context of George Carlin’s recent death, I’ve seen some people writing some reflections on the ephemerality of life. Friends have also apparently been pondering on the value of living fully and expressing our deepest selves fully while we have the chance, as Carlin apparently started doing once he couldn’t stand the bullshit any more and hit on his own personal style of comedy.
George Carlin never meant that much to me, but, similarly, I did get kinda emotional watching a Ramones video on youtube a couple nights ago. The Ramones – not to say that they always seemed the most 100% conscious or intentional dudes, but I think everyone would agree that they were people who made an impact and a difference, who expressed their own unique gifts pretty fully, changing rock music forever, plugging away at that shit with passion and commitment.
The video was of a song, “Chasing The Night“, that I used to listen to in the middle of the night, doing homework, when I was in high school. It’s a joyful song, it’s about heading out for adventure on a weekend night, and about feeling sexy, alive, unstoppable, uncontainable, and even immortal.
When I’ve listened to the album that the song is on (“Too Tough To Die”) in the past couple decades, I’ve usually thought, “They’re the fukkin Ramones, for fukkin fuck’s sake. They’ve been around forever. I guess they’ll be around forever.” But, y’know, it looks like actually they did their Ramones-y thing for a couple decades, they made their impact, they expressed their artistic essence to the world – and then Joey, Johnny, and Dee Dee all died between 2001 and 2004, between the ages of 49 and 55, of lymphoma, pancreatic cancer, and a heroin overdose.
I think that sometimes I have this sense that I have forever to live my purpose, that I trust that I will eventuality get around to writing my books and leading a weekly meditation group and expressing out the magic that is within me. But yeah I don’t have forever, none of us do. As I’ve written on this blog about before, my older sister is only eighteen months older than I am, and, about two years ago, out of the blue, she was diagnosed with major life-threatening cancer that she’s been struggling with since. And, as some friends know, I had a somewhat close-to-life-threatening experience at Coachella two months ago (always know exactly how concentrated any substance you ingest is, kids …)
As I’ve included in a past blog post, the Greek Stoic Epictetus once wrote something like, “Do you know that old age, disease, and death must overcome us, no matter what we are doing? What do you wish to be doing when it overtakes you? If you have anything better to be doing when you are so overtaken, begin on that now.” In Buddhism, the term “Samvega” means, a sense of urgency or passion for spiritual or life practice coming from knowing the preciousness of life and the constant nearness of death. And, best of all, my friend Kevin O’Malley sent me something a few months back that I have posted at the top of my daily to-do list since : “Your gifts are rare, your time on this earth is short, and your time is precious.”
Many poets have written about how the beauty and peace of a summer’s day inevitably gives way to the dying leaves of the Fall. But, as I write this, it is still the Summer. So, in the next week, I’m moving out of my house, after twelve years here, and taking the next step in my life journey. It’s really happening. Here’s to *going for it*, expressing ourselves fully and deeply *now*, living life while we have life to live …