November 26, 2018

Enjoy Yourself

Years ago, I watched the series finale of a television show called House. I loved the main character, Dr. House. He was a narcissistic jerk (who may have reminded me of myself), but he was a lovable narcissistic jerk, so I tuned in every week. The final scene still haunts me (in both good and bad ways).

The show's plot was way too complex to explain in a single post, but essentially, Dr. House's best friendan oncologist named Dr. Wilsonwas dying of cancer and given six months to live. Dr. House faked his own death and arranged for them to spend Wilson's final months traveling the countryside on motorcycles.

As the series fades to black, House and Wilson begin their journey cruising down the highway. In the background, a song plays. Its chorus:

Enjoy yourself; it's later than you think,
Enjoy yourself while you're still in the pink.
The years go by as quickly as a wink,
Enjoy yourself, enjoy yourself; it's later than you think.

I haven't been able to get those lines out of my head since.

In my twenties, I thought I would live forever. Not literally, obviously. I understood that all living creatures eventually die. But it felt like I had all the time in the world. There was always tomorrow. I could be anyone. Do anything. Sure, there was stress, anxiety, and fear, but the future was as limitless as my dreams.

As I approach forty-two, I realize that I'm on the back end of my life. Not that I'm old, but death is no longer an imaginary friend. My mortality feels real, which has me contemplating how I want to spend the next forty-two years.

Most of us play by the rules of a world that has an agenda. This world wants our time. It wants our money. It wants our energy. It wants our precious, fleeting, ever-dwindling minutes. And we oblige. We lick our index fingers and stick them in the air to determine which way the winds are blowing, and then act out a script someone else has written for us.

The world says to spend money and time on external looks, so we empty our wallets, stand on a scale, and stare into the mirror looking for flaws. The world says popularity is what ultimately matters, so we desperately try to be noticed. Aren't I clever? Aren't I smart? Aren't I talented? Aren't I important? Please tell me. Like my Facebook status. Retweet me. Read my blog.

I don't want to wait around for a near-death experience, a cosmic tragedy, or a terminal diagnosis to start living.

Of course, we all understand in the philosophical sense that everyone has a terminal diagnosis. Most of us just aren't sure how much time we have left. But my guess is, it's later than you think.

I'm not saying I've found the secret to life. I'm sure my next existential crisis is percolating as I type. But why wait for the perfect set of circumstances that may or may not ever arrive? Why wait for life to slap us upside the head to start living?

I've certainly been judged for some of my choices throughout the years. But that's because most people are so unhappy (or insecure) with their own lives that they only feel better by tearing down someone else. (I only know that because I've often been the unhappy, jealous, insecure person driving the bulldozer.) Luckily, we can rise above. Chart our own course. Death is eventually coming for us all, so we might as well live the lives we were created to live in the time we have left.

So the next time you have a choice between existing and living … enjoy yourself. Enjoy yourself. It's later than you think.