Live as if you’d drop dead in ten seconds…


Ray Bradbury by sigu

“Stuff your eyes with wonder, he said, live as if you’d drop dead in ten seconds. See the world.” ― Ray Bradbury

Leave a legacy

I’d rather not.

Forget about me… remember yourself.

But the choice is not really mine. No, I know… in theory it is mine. In practice… I could do something worthy with my life, leave a mark, a lasting impression, hopefully one which benefits humankind… but what is that?

cups being filled - bradbury

I read a post the other day where someone asked something along the lines of – If you knew the world was going to end today, tomorrow, soon, what would be the last impression of yourself which you would want to leave with those who saw you before you went poof!

It was something like that and I’d link you to the post as it left an impression with me… but I’d have to find it again and I’ve erased my browser history and part of my mind since then.

And that’s just it… what does it matter what last impression you leave if the person you are leaving it with also goes poof! And besides, they’ll see what they see from their perspective… which may be completely different from yours. And really if we’re all going poof! because the world is ending then surely they should be thinking about themselves, their life, their nearest and dearest, and the lasting impression which they would like to leave… even though it’s totally pointless… rather than thinking about you and the impression which you want to brand into their brain seconds before they go poof!

Why would you want someone to be thinking about you just before they go poof! surely that’s your problem and not theirs… not problem, but… I’m digging a hole for myself, maybe I’ll just go poof! instead.

life bradbury

People who are trying to control our impression of them… leave us with the impression that they are trying to control how we see them.

I know someone who is so incredibly thoughtfully nice… they’re annoying. They’re not really annoying, but I experience them that way. I feel as though they are nicing me to death, killing me with kindness… it’s not really that either. It’s that when I am with them I can’t relax and be myself because I might hurt them by ruining their story and they are trying so hard and I just… I just want to scream. Not at them. So I don’t scream because it would upset them… but that is all I can think about – trying not to scream, or swear, or say something shocking, or anything – don’t breathe, don’t move, don’t speak – because… I kind of get tourettes in those moments.

I wake up each morning surprised that I’m still alive. No reason, that’s just a morning ritual of sorts. Throughout the day I have flashes of – I could die right now. No reason, it’s just a thought which is there in my mind and pops up.

It started when I was almost squashed by a car. I was walking down a pavement, with headphones in my ears, paying attention to my surroundings yet not really there, floating in the world, being in it yet not of it. I stopped at a curb to cross a road, looked both ways using the green cross code without the listening bit, stepped out and… an invisible hand yanked me back by the shoulder. There wasn’t an invisible hand, my peripheral vision spotted swift movement and reacted before my mind knew what was going on. A car had run a red light and was going extra fast because the driver was aware of their action and trying to get away with it.

I thought in that moment afterwards – I could have been killed, end of my life story. Poof! Part of me enjoyed the thought, the other part didn’t.

That incident made me very aware of the transience of my life. Here today, gone today. Squish, splat, poof!

death bradbury

One of the problems which other people have with me, with the impression I seem to give them, is that I tend to live my life as if I’m going to drop dead in ten seconds. The decisions which I make concerning my future, bothers them because I seem irresponsible. I don’t see myself that way, I am utterly and totally responsible for my decisions and the consequences which follow whatever they may be. My regret if I make a stupid decision also belongs to me. Shifting the blame is fun at times, a reprieve from self-blame, but I never believe it when I do it. I prefer to own my faults and the problems they create because then I am also the solution if there is one.

But other people… when you’re living your life in a way which they aren’t living their life, it causes a conflict, a cognitive dissonance. You’re messing with their perception of reality. They want to know why, but how they go about doing that is often aggressive and undermining. Who do you think you are for not following the rules they are following and being like them!?! What they actually mean is – I wish I was as crazy as you are because I’m fed up with following the rules and not getting the rewards I’ve been told I’m going to get for living this way.

Something like that.

Basically people only notice you when you’re doing something which bothers them, either because they admire it and would like to do it themselves or because they admire it and would like to do it themselves but have been told it’s bad and so they want to control you, stop you from doing it because you’re triggering all sorts of rebellion inside of them.

bothered bradbury

Or they just want to control you.

Or… I don’t know… everyone wants to be good, perfect, righteous and right, and is terrified of being wrong, making a mistake, and being considered bad or faulty or flawed in some way.

“If you hide your ignorance, no one will hit you and you’ll never learn.” ― Ray Bradbury

I suppose I can be cavalier about this because I’ve already left a legacy of sorts. It was not of my doing and I did not choose to do so, nor was I asked. My father was an artist and used me as his model. Many of his paintings are of me… yet not me. There was one in particular which also was made into a print, multiplying the image and spreading it far and wide, and given a title which obliterated my existence. It bothered me. That’s me not someone else who isn’t even the same gender!!! Then I realised I was being stupid, really really egomaniacally stupid. Then it stopped bothering me, because that’s not me. It’s not meant to be me, it is whoever the person viewing that image wants it to be, maybe it’s them, or a loved one, or a fantasy.

plot characters bradbury

And that’s what a legacy is, it’s you but not you… it’s me but not me… it is a drop of inspiration in an ocean which flows and flows.

I’m here now. Then I’m gone. Once I’m gone… I’m all gone. I won’t know that I once was. I won’t care that I once was and cared about being. I will disintegrate into atoms which will dissipate and gather with other atoms elsewhere and create another someone or something which will be for a while and then not be anymore, and so it goes.

“It was a pleasure to burn.” ― Ray Bradbury

Kind of beautiful… a legacy of life flowing without stopping until perhaps one day… Poof!


ps. Found it! I’m not such an airhead after all, all the time. The post which left a lasting impression – Your Last Impression by Me – Who Am I?