It’s the first day of the rest of your life. Your body is aging and as your cells continue to multiply, they become less and less stable, constantly enhancing their ability to mutate and to destroy you.
Don’t forget that your cells will go into competition for needed nutrients. You can do all the CrossFit and 5ks you want but in time you will be taken down by something the size of a mosquito’s thoughts.
Every two lane highway and old railroad crossing, every syringe and unwashed piece of baby spinach, every time a stranger coughs, every time a tree’s roots lose the will to hang on…
Don’t forget that it’s the first day of the rest of your life. It could be the last. Every day brings your closer.
Don’t forget to be thankful to the world that will kill you. A world literally rife with ways to remove you from it.
The world is like ocean. It’s large and it doesn’t care about you.
Don’t forget to pick a good place to have brunch. That may be the last egg you ever eat.
And then you might get salmonella and die.
Life is funny like that.
Today is the first day of the rest of your life.
Here lies you: they never saw it coming
This post starts off annoying but I PROMISE it gets good:
As some of you may have noticed, I just made available the first ever theyearofelan t-shirt.
Why the hell would I do this? Well, let me explain briefly.
Many cool and nice people have asked me to turn my tweets into a book or into a calendar, but it can’t imagine why anyone would pay for things I already like doing for free.
But then I had a fun idea to make shirts. But how do I make this worthwhile?
Well, my friend Jac Vanek has a clothing line and she agreed to make some theyearofelan shirts, starting with one of my favorite tweets… “I Love Hating Things”
Now, here is the cool part for me. 100% of every single dollar I make will be donated to one of my favorite charities: Next Door Solutions. Not 50%. Not 75%. 100% of every dollar will go to help some really great people who are in a really tought spot.
Next Door Solutions (http://www.nextdoor.org) is a great charity I have worked with for the past few years and their mission is to help bring an end to domestic violence. They help women, children, and men in need as they struggle with some of the most difficult situations anyone can deal with.
I know I have a pretty dark sense of humor and I’m not about to change that. But here’s a great way to channel some of that negativity into something positive. I love hating things. One of the things I hate the most is domestic violence, and together, we can help change a few lives while having a bit of a laugh, hopefully.
Thanks for taking the the time to read this. Hopefully a few people will wear this shirt proudly and help me raise some money for some people who really need our help. I’ve always been able to count on you in the past, and I’m always eternally grateful.
You are so cool.
It has recently been brought to my attention that anything could happen.
It has been brought to my attention that we do not know what the future holds.
I accepted this fact. But then I started thinking about something else:
You could die at any moment. You could have an aneurysm. You could fall down an elevator shaft. You could eat undercooked pork.
There are a billion ways that everything could go wrong.
But, there aren’t that many ways that things could all go right. Not having an aneurysm doesn’t vastly improve your life. Taking an elevator normally isn’t particularly gleeful. Having a pork chop is fine, but not life-altering.
What does this mean?
Well, I guess it means that over the course of a year, every single moment is potentially fatal. But, once in a while, just once in a while. a moment will surface where you actually can make everything better. Where you can change it all. Your job, your health, where you place your love.
Those moments are really, really important. And when one of those moments walks up to you and slaps you in the face, you better pay attention, because it may be a year before another moment like that shows up.
And between now and then, a million moments will try to destroy you.
Take your chances when you can.
And avoid undercooked pork.
It was May 3rd when Leonard realized that he could not sink.
On his back, staring up at the waxing moon and the few stars that braved the smog, he exhaled.
He closed his eyes and saw her words stuck to the back of his eyelids. They too wouldn’t sink. They floated endlessly, drifting slowly from the back of his mind to the front, and back again, again and again.
Life has a way of telling you what to do and then making you think it’s your idea.
He let out all of his air and felt the cold water rush over him. Bubbles connected him to his past.
Taking in water, he prayed to touch the coarse floor below.
As he ran out of breath, he came back up into the world and the world let him know that he was to be quiet. The birds were sleeping.
With deep breaths and wrinkled fingers he told everyone that he would be quiet and he would let the screams stay inside.
The moon looked down, winning again.
Someone recently asked me if I was looking forward to going to heaven.
First of all, I’m not really sure that’s in the cards for me, but more importantly, I don’t have the slightest clue what a place like that might be like.
So I asked them.
"Heaven is a place where all your family and friends are waiting for you and then you get to be together forever."
You can just stop right there. I spent four days with my family back in December and let me tell you, that was about enough.
My mind began racing. What would a place like this look like?
I imagined a single couch with all of my dead relatives sitting on and around it. My great uncles were way off to the side seeming pretty annoyed that they never got to sit down. The room was incredibly full of dead people and empty diet coke cans because no one wanted to get up to throw them out because you really don’t want to lose your spot on this couch.
"Let’s go outside and go for a walk," my grandmother said.
"Nope. No. We can’t do that," said my grandfather. "This is heaven. We are supposed to wait here to greet anyone who dies so we can spend eternity with them."
"Ugh, no one has died in like four months," my second cousin said, "Can someone just hurry up and die already? I’m. So. Bored."
"Well, we’re all hoping someone dies soon," said aunt Sheila. "We need someone to throw out these diet coke cans before this place turns into a real sty!"
Am I looking forward to heaven?
Marilyn opened the top drawer in the room where she grew up and found a poorly decorated box filled entirely with old hopes.
Photographs, sounds, and bullshit mementos of when things were going to be a certain way.
The slight rhythmic squeak of the ceiling fan was just as she had remembered. It, like all other things she knew had remained eternal.
A slightly torn picture rested atop the pile. She remembered the day she tried to shred this memory, but was too conflicted to complete the job. That memory. The memory of her inability to destroy the memory had all but eliminated all the memories and all the reasons she wanted to destroy it in the first place.
Dinner was getting cold downstairs.
She was in no hurry though, despite the hopeful voices that ebbed through the walls.
Why change now? This moment, like all things, like the perfect moment she was missing, would last forever.
“Why are you always looking at your phone?”
I’ve heard this a lot.
Why don’t you talk to the people you’re with? Why aren’t you present? Who are you talking to?
As we become more dependent on our phones and social media as methods of communication, more and more people ask these questions.
People moan about “how we’ve changed.”
Hey, people who talk like this: Maybe it’s your fault.
When I’m in a good conversation, my phone stays in my pocket. When I’m engaged, I stay engaged. Maybe it’s you?
And what’s wrong with wanting to talk to people that are far away? What is it about your proximity to me that makes you take precedent? Why are you more important just because you happen to be here?
We aren’t trapped with the people we’re trapped with anymore. We can talk to whomever we want to, anytime we want to. Maybe this is a good thing. Maybe the people around us need to do a better job of being the people we want to be around.
Imagine if we could teleport and instantly be around the people we wanted to talk to, to be around, to feel. I bet we’d pop in and out of countries faster than we pop in and out of chat windows.
This is progress.
If you take out your phone when I’m talking to you I’m going to make it my goal to do a better job of being interesting, and if I can’t get you out of your screen then maybe it’s better that you’re talking to someone else, because clearly I’m not living up to my expectations in this relationship.
“Why are you always looking at your phone?”
Because you’re not giving me a reason not to.
James had just received his pilot’s license. After nearly a year of training, of studying, of books and manuals and wind charts, he had finally done it. A goal accomplished. A feather in his cap.
He took off for his final leg back to Palo Alto, his first real trip as a pilot. He was looking forward to seeing Molly. She’d been waiting for this day. Not because she so badly wanted him to be a pilot, but because she wanted her fiancé back. She wanted him to get his nose out of the books and back against the nape of her neck where it belonged.
Molly knew that she should take some of the responsibility. She too had lost the fire that used to rage inside her. She forgot the feeling he used to give her when he walked through the door. When they were young, their evenings flowed like watercolors on a canvas, blending perfectly from one moment to the next with past, present, and future feeling like they were all happening at once.
Now, dinner meant dinner and bed meant bed.
On their third date, Molly took James to see “The Notebook.” He didn’t know what it was but went along because he didn’t care what they did as long as he could slide his hand over hers.
As the credits rolled, James wiped a tear from his stoic face and Molly knew that there was something about this guy that just felt honest.
"I need to get back to that," Molly thought and opened up her laptop.
Somewhere over the bay, James banked towards the sunset, basking in his moment.
Molly clicked “Buy Now” and somewhere in a factory in Brisbane a series of gears and levers began to move. A robot arm climbed 40 feet into the air to clutch the 3rd paperback reprinting of “The Notebook,” by Nicholas Sparks.
James banked left, starting to head towards the city, towards Molly, towards home.
Clear tape stretches over a hurriedly folded box. With one book inside, the package moved nimbly over the rolling metal cylinders and into the distribution pod, where it was almost immediately collected by AD471, a delivery drone on its third delivery of the day.
Up, up and away.
"The Notebook" and James were both headed rapidly towards the city, alone each in their vessels, but not alone in their willingness to change everything. James knew he would walk through the door and lift Molly up and tell her that he wanted her to be his co-pilot, forever. His co-pilot for life.
James pitched down and pulled the throttle, beginning his descent. AD471 banked sharply right to avoid a usual patch of wind as is recorded in the Amazon Drone Delivery manifest.
"What’s that?" asked James, to no one in particular.
And it was the last thing he ever said. AD471 had been sucked into his left engine, igniting a fire, and sending James and “The Notebook” hurtling wildly towards earth, bound together forever in fear and desolation.
As he fell, he noticed the cover and had a fleeting glimpse of a charred Ryan Gosling and Rachel McAdams, holding each other as he would hold no one ever again.
The phone rang and Molly quickly answered it.
"We’re sorry ma’am," a voice said.
"Oh no, what’s wrong?" asked Molly.
"Well, the copy of The Notebook you ordered was damaged en route. Another one will be on the way shortly. Sorry for any inconvenience. We have waived the delivery charge."
The year was 1962 and the once quiet streets of downtown Munich were busier than ever.
The sounds of honking. The hanging lights swaying in the wind.
But the foot traffic made the city feel alive…
…to everyone except for the Doctor.
“These people, these animals, are slowing our movement,” the Doctor said to his wife. “We must find a way to lull them into a false sense of security, and then, once we have them trapped, we will destroy them all.”
Shortly thereafter, the Doctor invented a way to destroy as many pedestrians as possible. He had created a place where people would feel comfortable to walk and then they would be violently rammed into by roaming vigilante car squads! Yes! The Doctor would be victorious.
And he was…
That, my friends, is the tale of Dr. Fredrick Crosswalk
A lot of people don’t know this about me, but among other things, I am also a pretentious amateur cook. My friend saw a dish I made the other day and asked me to send him the recipe to make something for his wife. Here is my recipe:
how to cook a duck
two duck breasts, fat on
orange juice, grand marnier, balsamic vinegar, honey
get the skillet hot as f*ck
don’t put anything in it
score the duck fat in a criss cross fashion without reaching the flesh
put salt and pepper on each side of the duck, passionately
put the duck in the hot as f*ck skillet, fat side down. after the first 5 minutes turn down the heat to medium f*cking hot and give it 2-3 more minutes
put on better music this stuff is terrible
flip that motherf*cker over, leaving it on medium f*cking heat for about 5 or 6 minutes (leave it for like 8 if you don’t like it medium rare, which is how you should like it because that’s how the f*ck it’s supposed to be.)
take the motherf*cking duck out and put it on a plate to chill for a second.
pour out 95% of the duck fat (save it to fry potatoes in, also you can put it on your neighbor’s car, you have no idea how much damage duck fat can do to a paint job)
throw in like 4 tablespoons or some shit of honey
and like 3 tablespoons of balsamic and a shot of grand mariner and a shot and a half of orange juice
turn down the lights because things are about to get sexy
scrape the duck bits that are in the pan and just let this shit reduce down til it feels SAUCY as f*ck
then, throw the duck back in for about 45 seconds on each side to coat it and give it a little tiny bit of warmth
put it on something
eat it with your mouth so good and hard
turn off the stove
wash the dishes
make love to your wife
regret parts of your childhood
go to bed
salt and pepper to taste
I remember the day that I found out that everything happened for a reason.
It was 2pm and I was still in bed. My head was aching and my body had wine stains on it.
At the foot of my bed there were three dogs I did not know. All of them were named Stanley. They had bandanas around their necks that I assumed could be used to tell them apart, but they were all the same bandana. Three little cocker spaniels, all of them named Stanley and all of them with matching bright red bandanas.
I decided to get some water and as I walked through the living room, all of my belongings has been replaced by piles of black ash. I tried to sit down on a chair I once had but I just fell right through to the floor, coughing and choking as the fire remnants filled my lungs.
Stanley laughed. Well, all the Stanleys laughed. They were having a damn ball over there, just laughing and showing their teeth and lamenting their very existence but using humor as an escape.
The water pitcher was no longer in the refrigerator because the refrigerator was just a pile of ash decorated with fancy ice trays that had survived the apparent blaze.
The smoke alarms, hysterically, were also ash piles. Totally hilarious.
I took a drink from the faucet and felt instantly better. One of the Stanleys licked the caked Syrah from my ankle. I wondered if he or she would be okay but then I remembered that sometimes I did that and I seemed fine.
A seven year old boy emerged from the bathroom and asked me what his name was. I confidently told him it was probably Stanley. He smiled and leapt through the kitchen window. It was impressive.
I crawled back into bed and wondered what I had done wrong the night before. But then I realized that everything happens for a reason. I closed my eyes and told myself that everything was going to be alright.
The Stanleys, minus the window-leaping child, circled my quiet body and I kissed the back of my own hand, practicing for a time when I would marry my wife in front of a congregation of friends, obligations, and annoying family members.
All is well, I thought, as I descended back into sleep, waiting for the surprises that tomorrow would bring.
When my friend died, I really thought about all the things I took for granted. Those phone calls that meant nothing. The text messages that all mirrored the others. The pleasantries.
When she was gone, all the things that meant nothing suddenly meant everything. It was never hard for me to make her smile, but I couldn’t do it anymore. It was never hard for me to make her laugh, but my jokes now would fall quietly to the ground. It was never hard to comfort her when she felt overwhelmed, but now I was silent.
I cried a lot.
My friend was quiet.
She told me I was going to be okay. She told me to cheer up. She gave me a reason to.
I found myself wanting all the things for myself that I wanted for her. I wanted her quiet. I wanted to hear that silence again. I wanted it to be temporary. I wanted our pauses to mean something, but now they last forever.
They still mean something. They mean a lot to me. I remember the last time we ran out of things to say. I’ll never regret telling her I loved her.
I remember where I was standing.
Sometimes I drive past my old house, just to put a place to that moment. I pull to the side of the road and I think about the moments that mattered to me and I hear her laugh and I look for spiders, the spiders she was so scared of.
But there never are any spiders. Maybe that means there is nothing left to fear.
I close my eyes and I tell her that there are no spiders here. She smiles, in my mind, and in my mind she thanks me for checking.
And then we just stand there together, in a spiderless world, knowing that everything will be okay, because there is nothing left that can harm her.
This day is not important to me. This is just another day.
But like every day, it’s going to be exactly what you make it.
Make this one whatever you want. Make the next one whatever you want. If it takes a ball dropping to make you change the things you don’t like, that’s great. Some people need the loss of love. Some people need to experience mortality. Some people need to feel the detrimental effect of their actions. Good for them too.
But here we are, passively watching a ball drop and watching numbers shrink to endless zeros and if that’s all it takes to look at yourself in the mirror and say “NOW,” then now is our time, and we are lucky for it.
Love so hard. Hate with passion. Hug tightly. Kiss until you can’t breathe. Mean it when you say goodbye but mean it even more when you say hello.
I’m not going to pretend 2014 is going to be great, but I know it’s going to happen, so I greatly recommend making it great.
It’s up to me. It’s up to you.
Shake your life until it looks like something you love.
Shake it until the leaves you hate fall from the branches.
Shake it like a Polaroid picture.