The text that began my day read: “Please dear God tell me you’re still alive.”
My friend Kim from back home. “Lord,” I’m thinking, “what natural California disaster have I missed this time? Earthquake? Fire? Kale shortage?” You get these sort of texts often in our wonderful/volatile state.
But the next one proved even more rattling.
“Someone read on Facebook that you’re gone. Your obituary. I’m shaking. Oh dear God I hope it’s not true.”
Nobody seemed to be able to reference the source of the announcement or who stumbled across it to begin with. Who still gets their news off Facebook anyway besides your great Aunt Minnie who thinks Newfoundland interfered in our election? On second thought, I’ve stumbled on a few obits in the same place, but they all turned out to be true.
The hell. Minutes later, I’m trying to pull my car into the same spot I park in every Tuesday morning, but I can’t. An electricity pole is lying across the parking place, glass and shards of whatever else light poles are made of scattered in the nearby spots as well. People are coming out of the building to see what happened. Apparently this Oh Crap You’re Dead scenario didn’t miss the mark by much. Breathing through a fog of dread and relief, I’m already thinking of the script I’d write – some alternate reality Is He Or Is He Not Dead thing, when I realize I’d already written it years ago – “Too big a budget for such a small story,” my agent told me.
“I’ve alerted the old gang,” my old buddy continued in her string of mortified texts.
I have no idea what any of this means. Coincidence? My guardian angel, running on empty for a few months now, finally stepping up to the plate?
One thing I do know, it does feel a bit better to be alive than it did a couple days ago. So in honor of the fact that the rumors of my death were greatly exaggerated, I’ve decided to throw together a string of thoughts on which I’ve ruminated since that half-dead morning. Let’s call them rules I’ve decided to live by. How far I get is anyone’s guess.
1. Sweat the small stuff. I don’t know why they tell you not to. Sweating is good for you, and I read somewhere a little stress is chockfull of health benefits.
2. Be really nice to awful people. It makes them VERY uncomfortable. Which makes it lots of fun.
3. You know that awesome feeling you get when someone does something nice for you in traffic? Let the car pull in front of you, it won’t make you later than you already are. And let the lady cross the street for God’s sake – even if you know two cars will snake in when you do. Who cares? Bam, you just did something nice for three people at once!
4. No matter how hard it is, try to see the world from the other person’s vista. Walk a mile in the other guy’s shoes, whatever. A lot of mean people in government telling us to fear this one or that. I have a hunch if there’s such a thing as reincarnation, we won’t be coming back as us. If God has a sense of humor, we’ll be coming back as that thing we hate most. So be rude as hell to that immigrant waiter if you want – next life you’re slinging hash – or worse – at the Sunset Denny’s.
5. Install a low wattage light bulb in your bathroom. That way you’ll always look young, fab and tan. When you spot yourself in any kind of natural lighting or changing booth situation, remember to squint to allow the same effect.
6. Travel more. Even if you can’t afford it. No trip is without its merits. It will genuinely make you smarter. Mark Twain said, “Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all one’s lifetime.”
7. Ease up on your news intake. No matter what side of the aisle you’re on, the whole thing is exhausting. You can turn off everything – TV, phone, whatever, and still know enough to prep you for the voting booth. Everyone from your dental hygienist to your boozy sidewalk-sweeping neighbor will be more than happy to fill you in.
8. Get out in nature at least twice a week. Taking in the beauty of birds, lizards and petunias will make you less of an a-hole.
9. Eating more fruits and vegetables will too. Plus you’ll be guaranteed a good poop every day, and who doesn’t want that?
10. Take a few minutes every morning to meditate on ten people who brought you to where you are. Then count the genuine miracles you’ve experienced. There may not be many, but I guarantee you they’re there.
11. Drink more tequila. Unless you’re an alcoholic, then don’t.
12. Stop comparing yourself to other people. My friend April had a buddy who had everything she could possibly want and more. She was recently given a couple months to live. They buried her today. Even if you find out you have a couple months to live, at least you have a couple months. This thing is all gonna be over so fast anyway (the hell happened to January??) so you better start being grateful for every situation – including those spent in line at the post office or getting your tires rotated. Even that sh*t is gold.
13. Forgive someone you’ve compared to Satan. When I told my pal Rebecca, “I know, I know, it’s not about me – it’s about her,” she said, “Nope. It’s NOT about her. It’s about you.” True dat.
14. Have more sex. Even if it’s with yourself. “Dang, I wish I’d had fewer orgasms,” said nobody on their deathbed.
15. Open your mind to the possibility that there’s something weird and wonderful going on beyond what we can see. For God’s sake, one’s fake news obit can show up the same minute you narrowly escape death by electrocution. I’m convinced more than ever any world with clouds, trees, poop and petunias has something on its mind, and then some.
Happy life to you all.
And thanks for the heads up, Kim.