September 2, 2011

Editor’s Letter: “If today is the last day of my life, I’d want to pass on just a few things.”

This is my weekly editor’s letter, of August the 25th. To subscribe to our once-a-week email newsletter, which includes just our top 10 best/favorite blogs plus my editor’s letter and a few other random things, like event listings, sign up, free, here. ~ ed.

“It’s a Good Day to Die.”
~ Crazy Horse.

Meaning: “A belief that one should never live a moment of one’s life with any regrets, or tasks left undone. Which would make today as good a day as any to die.”

The best thing I ever got to do, as a child, was Shambhala Sun Summer Camp. That’s where we did…well, nothing. We practiced doing nothing. In a busy-bee childhood of games and homework and friends and sports and everything, nothing‘s where it’s at. Nothing‘s a great antidote to monkey mind. Nothing‘s what A Dangerous Book for Boys was about. Nothing‘s what Huck and Tom practiced, fishing by the Mississippi and inventing schemes and mischief. Nothing‘s what makes summers endless, and magical.

But I don’t want to tell you about Sun Camp, here. I don’t have the time. Because if today is a good day to die, well, it’s 3:55 am as I’m writing this, and this day is well over.

I’m 37, now—an age I’ve been thinking is analogous to August. I’m still young, physically—it’s still the summer of this short, precious human life I’ve inherited—but it’s the end of the beginning. As a “Dharma Brat“—a Buddhist born n’bred—I don’t find death depressing. Death, as Suzuki Roshi said, happens in every moment. That I’m no longer young, and not quite old, has become a daily reminder that life is finite and ought to be dedicated to something worthwhile—something beyond dinner and Netflix and sex and coffee…something beyond samsara. For if our life is about accumulating or chasing pleasure, and avoiding or fighting suffering, our life is selfish.

As Eleanor Roosevelt said, and Sakyong Mipham, my Buddhist teacher, too—life is only fun and fulfilling once we put others first.

I’ve been at this “business” of mine for 9 years, now—and though there’s been little financial reward, thus far, and I’ve worked 6 or 7 days a week and 10 or 14 hours a day, I’ve enjoyed it. That’s because we entrepreneurs are lucky: we may work for the toughest bosses—the ones that’ll never shut up—but we’re doing exactly what we care about. Even if, half the time, we’re serving our mission by doing menial, unglorious tasks, it’s all meaningful.

If today is the last day of my life, I’d want to pass on just a few things.

1. As Joseph Campbell put it, follow your bliss. Do what you love. The world needs it, as does your parched soul.

2. Meditate, twice a day, if only for a few minutes—and you’ll find your mind and life rise above he-said-she-said and toward the stars, where dreamers dream castles in the air (HD Thoreau, to continue with the name-dropping).

3. Most powerfully, whatever you do, dedicate the merit. Meaning, give away anything positive that might come of anything you do—give it away now. Give it back to the universe, the mother from which it came. And that’ll make all our work more fun, and fluid, and useful to others.

I don’t say any of this from the point of view of attainment, or knowledge. I say it from the trenches. elephantjournal.com has now doubled in readers in the past 6 months. Part of that’s because I’ve been single, a workaholic, focused. But most of that is because of our volunteers—we’re becoming a reader-creating, grassroots phenom.


If you’d like to take part in our revolution, our turning of the wheel of truth, there’s four easy ways to do your part: 

One, forward this email to a friend and suggest that they sign up for this free weekly Best-Of-Elephant newsletter. This will help us continue to share the good news regarding “the mindful life” beyond our core or choir.

And, two, consider signing up for our ridiculously expensive Paygate: $1 a month to read unlimited elephant articles. Otherwise, you get 3 plus searches and our home page, every day.

Three, write something. Email your idea or article or poem or artwork, with bio and photo, to [email protected].

And, four, remember every day is a good day to die. Or, to put it in more positive terms, Carpe Diem (watch the Robin Williams video).

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