I’m sure most of you are familiar with the saying “live every day like it’s your last”. We see it embroidered on pillows or posted on Facebook with inspirational photos by the same idiots who tell us to dance like no one is watching and something about the number of moments that take your breath away. At least twice a week I get a similar email from a well meaning friend or relative that includes a heavily recycled message meant to be uplifting in some way or another. I love my friends and family so I read them and on rare occasions, they are unique or genuinely thought-provoking. However, this notion of having to always be living your life to the fullest, really gets under my skin. As if there isn’t something to be said for lying around doing jack-shit all day. This concept dawned on me when recently, after a night of heavy drinking, I completely blew my only day off from work.
It was the start of spring, where every day is one of those shining gifts from God that everyone generally freaks out over. Naturally, this was the week I decided to pick up extra shifts, leaving me to enjoy it by having my face plastered against the fourth floor window of the spa I work at, looking down at all of the people gallivanting along Fifth Avenue.
Leading up to my day off, all I could think about was what I would do when it finally arrived! I could go for a bike ride or lie in the park or be one of those people you see out there seizing the day on their roller-blades. Shit, maybe I’d even get one of those free kayaks on the Hudson and go to town!
Well just as Sam Champion predicted, Sunday, my day off, was absolutely gorgeous!
So of course I had a crippling hang over.
First thing I did was cancel brunch. When you’re too sick to go out and drink more you know your day is in jeopardy. If I couldn’t make it out for Bellinis and French toast four doors down from my apartment, there wasn’t much chance of me getting on the river. Even the prospect of dragging my ass to the nearest patch of grass and taking a nap was terrifying.
After ordering a bagel and eight diet cokes I spent my morning watching DVR’d episodes of The View from like six weeks ago, which were of course, now completely irrelevant. Subsequently, this is no different than current episodes of The View but that’s besides the point.
When I was no longer afraid to stand up, I decided I had to get a new phone. This was only because I had accidentally drowned mine in tomato juice trying to make bruschetta a couple of nights before and I wasn’t receiving text messages.
At 2 p.m. I bravely walked the six blocks to the Sprint store and bought my first iPhone! From then on any hope of doing anything outdoors was now shattered as this thing is as spell binding as my first Barbie mansion. Four hours and eighteen useless app downloads later, the sun was finally relenting, giving way to the sweet absolution of my endless guilt about being a total loser.
That’s when this obnoxious little phrase popped into my head bringing back all of the anxieties of the day. “Live every day like it’s your last!” ringing in my brain, just to remind me of what a complete failure I had been on this; my coveted day away from work! And then I had another thought which went something along the lines of: Fuck. This. Shit.
I took a minute to really think about it. What kind of nonsense is that anyway? Seriously, what marathon running, road trip taking, skydiving asshole came up with that shit? If everyone lived every day like it was their last nobody would ever go to work and then who would deliver my calzones? We wouldn’t do ANY of that mundane bullshit that keeps us functioning in regular life. No more paying bills, no more going to the gym, no more cleaning my bathroom. I get that all this wouldn’t matter because essentially I’d be dead tomorrow but the champions who perpetuate this philosophy have to know that we aren’t actually going to die, right? Which leaves me a fat, sloppy mess with no cable by the end of the month.
Not to mention can you imagine how exhausting it would be living as though you had only twenty four more hours? EVERY DAY?? How many climbs up Mount Everest am I cut out for? I suppose I could make it to Disneyland on Monday, the pool on Tuesday, and I’d have to do the kayaks on Wednesday because I’ve been talking about that FOREVER. But then I’m out of ideas! Even trying to think of things to do that would be worthy of my final days is draining! It’s too much!
The anxiety of having to make the most of your life is overwhelming. Plus, has anyone thought about what they would actually do on their last day? Here’s how I figure mine would go:
I wake up. Some magic genie tells me it’s my last day on Earth.
Me: What?! How do you know?!
Genie: Because I’m floating three feet above your bedroom floor, that’s how.
Me: Fuck, he has a point.
Then: Absolute panic! I must be sick! I have to see a doctor! But I don’t have one because like a total winner I am 34 and only JUST got health insurance. I have no idea where to start. I’ll just go to the hospital.
At the hospital I explain to the emergency room attendants that a magic genie told me I have only one day to live and I HAVE to see a doctor! They assume I am on drugs and hold me in the psych ward for three hours doing tests that prove that not only am I not on anything but the only thing wrong with me is that I am an imbecile. Twenty hours left.
I call my parents in a state of absolute hysteria. “Mom! Dad! I’m going to die tomorrow!” See paragraph above for their reaction.
After realizing that anyone I present with my predicament is going to assume I’m on acid, I spend two more hours huddled in a ball crying on my living room floor.
I’m so distraught I can’t do anything with the Ben and Jerry’s in my freezer and trying to watch HBO is out of the question because I keep thinking about how I’m going to drop dead by morning. The only thing I can think to do that may be of any use whatsoever is to get hammered. Which is what I did last night, which is why I didn’t do shit today.
All told, my day spent playing with my new phone doesn’t sound so bad anymore.
But more importantly is the thought that we NEED days doing nothing, not only to recharge, but to appreciate the days that are spectacular. I may have had a less than stellar Sunday but the night before was a blast and I would hope that makes it an equal trade off in the tally of good experiences to bad.
That being said, I’m going to try not to drown in guilt over this kind of thing in the future. Furthermore, the next time some moron tells me to live every day like it’s my last I’m going to present them with my philosophy which would be something more like “Live some days like you’re not a complete waste of space, then be annoyed at work the rest of the time.”