“Don’t bend; don’t water it down; don’t try to make it logical; don’t edit your own soul according to the fashion. Rather, follow your most intense obsessions mercilessly.” – Franz Kafka
You have been trained to believe that if your life is not moving continually along one linear path with a glowing reward at the end of it, then what you are doing is worthless; you’re wasting your time. But is it worthless to travel without buying a souvenir, or to read literature without pursuing an English degree, or to love without the expectation of something in return? Fill your heart with things like this and the path will begin to matter less and less.
Stop asking yourself where your life is going, and instead start asking: “Am I going to allow myself to die before my body does? Do I want to spend my time on Earth accumulating things to be buried with me, or do I want to leave behind a legacy of love so extraordinarily grand that no one can force it to stay inside a coffin?”
Your purpose is not to take as much as you can with you into death, but to give as much of yourself as possible before you die, because in that way, you will live forever in the world.
I often hear of death reduced to a moment, to a single last breath. It’s true that we only die one time, but the amount of time it takes a person can vary. Sure, you exist–you eat sushi and drink Coke, you sleep on mattresses and brush your teeth in the morning because you can’t afford a cavity right now, you tell other people out of habit that you love them even if you don’t feel it every time.
These things can be enjoyable and offer satisfaction, a reassurance that your life is all right and has a steady direction, but do they allow your soul to breathe? You must do what makes you feel alive, or you will suffer a death that is longer and more excruciating than any you could imagine.
You must read books that are not good for you but that make you laugh in spite of yourself, and write the same kinds of things that you read. Make a list of the things that you wanted to do before someone told you that they couldn’t be done, and then sneak away from your children at night to go and do them. Think of places that beckon you and bribe families that are driving there to take you with them. Do whatever makes you marvel at your own humanity, and do it well and with unprecedented joy.
Before you die, live.
What is your passion? What makes you feel alive?
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