Tag: A Young Giant

GRAVITAS IMPETUS : : WAS IT WORTH IT

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I often imagine my life as something illusory, not because it is in itself unreal, but because the life which surrounds me, appears at times, to not be alive at all. It moves of course and changes and adapts, in just the same way you might think a living thing should, but how much of it’s really living after all, living in its truest sense at least, not just simply here as a reactant caught within some grand experiment? With every passing year, I tend to remove myself more often from my own experience to watch from a distance, those around me, those other agents in this larger thing going on that we call, humanity, to observe their own experiences and interactions with it and how these differ from my own.

In doing so, there are times when I can’t help but wonder how much, or perhaps more fittingly, how little of human life’s lived consciously, because almost inanimate, like fallen leaves caught in the current of some raging river, it seems to react only to the happenstance of its force and its ebbs and its flows, and as each of these continue downstream, racing toward some unknown end, rarely is their direction questioned, ostensibly less so, is the source. And if it is, these lives, they tend to say, well, I’m here because the current took me here, and then they throw their arms in the air and ask almost rhetorically, where else could I be, as though they never had legs to kick or a brain to think.

There’s conceivably no other time in any human life when one is more an outsider to this experience than as a child. I remember this age in my own life fairly vividly. It was interesting watching all those big people doing big things, those fully grown lives moving about in a world far larger than my little mind could comprehend, and I’d think, they’re free from all of these confinements I feel as a child, they have so few rules, they know so much, they have so few limitations, and yet, here we are in a bank or a store or in the car yet again, there’s a line, we’re queuing for something, we’re always queuing. So much was outside of my control then, but I would create, venture, play, discover, if even in my mind, because I knew that moving around in this way that I was being forced to move in, something like cattle being herded for slaughter, there was very little value in it, and if I was going to be forced to do these things that I didn’t wish to do, I would have to create value or venture off from the herd. I think most kids think like that, but it’s soon forgotten.

Now that I’m an adult, I better understand some of these things, there’s a necessity for such things, but I never forget that we have invited these things into our lives. Why did we do so? Well, for more control of course, not for the kind of control that offers personal freedom, but because we as people, individuals, can’t be trusted with our personal freedom, so it’s control of the collective that matters. We think we’re free, but we’re not, not unless we choose to be at least.

The problem is that we wait our entire lives for that moment of freedom. We say things like, well, when I can drive, I’ll have so much freedom, I’ll do whatever I like then, but we soon learn, to drive requires gasoline and gasoline requires money, so what do we do, well, we get a job, but it’s a hard job and it doesn’t pay well, so we say, I’ll go to college then, or university, and I’ll work hard for just a few short years, only four more years and I’ll have that long awaited freedom. So, we do that, we put in those years of hard work, we succeed where we’re told to succeed, and then that brilliant day comes, graduation day, we’re finally there, but we’re not, because soon afterwards in pursuing some course of career, we quickly discover, and this is even if we can find a job, well, it’s a hard job and it doesn’t pay well, something like that which was available to us in our youth. This time however, we not only have to pay for gasoline, that is if we can afford a car, but we also need some place to live, and we need food to eat, and we need to pay down all that school debt we acquired, because as it turns out, those four short years, ended up being quite long and quite expensive. So what do we do, well, we go back to school to become more specialized, because we need more money than we thought, and also, because the kind of work available to us is just as awful as that which was available in our youth.

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However, we are told, those who are specialized, they’re the ones who really make the money, and well, it’s the money that will solve all of these problems and will ultimately provide you with that freedom. So we do just that, we are close though, we can taste it, just a few more years now. We trudge along like this, and then suddenly we are in our mid twenties, but that’s okay, because now we are specialists, life can finally begin. And it does, but by now, whose life are you living?

You got that job, that specialized job, you are making more money and the work is slightly less awful and it starts to feel like its finally coming together, like the freedom is just a few short steps away, though it doesn’t quite feel like freedom and you can’t quite figure out why. Time, things, life, it all moves more quickly now. You have less of it to think about or to pursue that freedom you had so desperately wanted all the way back in your childhood, but when you do, you think, well what’s still missing?

So you revisit the playbook of the collective instead of now utilizing the shred of freedom you have fought so hard to obtain, and you say, well, I need a partner of course, this journey is meant to be shared, and yet, you are busy and your time is valuable, so you search within your sphere of convenience, and you’ll probably find someone quite easily after a few missteps with others, because, well, you are in that sphere of convenience, and your new found partner, they have lived the exact same life you have, and now they too are rushing to find a partner of convenience. Now that you have found each other, you decide you should get married, that’s what people are supposed to do right? So you do this, and you probably have a child or two, and now you discover, inviting all of these things into your life has only caused the loss of what little freedom you still had.

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Suddenly, you are in your forties and you wake up one morning and realize you still don’t have that freedom, and you are angry, and you search for answers, and you say, perhaps I took a misstep in choosing the career that I chose, maybe I will switch careers you say. But upon giving this further thought, you realize, you are far too specialized now to be doing anything else but exactly that of which you are doing, so that likely isn’t an option. Besides, you have so many financial responsibilities by this point, you couldn’t possibly risk cutting off the supply of money. After all, it is the money that provided any ounce of freedom in the first place. So you keep thinking, and you think, well perhaps it is this partner, we always seem to be doing things that they wish to do, and they came into my life right around the time I was beginning to taste freedom, so it must be that, there were so many things I wanted to do over the years, and couldn’t when I finally could, because I was committed to my partner and this family, and so now you say, I think I want a divorce.

And this will likely be easier than you think, because opposite you, your partner who has been living the same life is thinking the exact same thing you are, they want a divorce. And both of you are under the disillusionment that you might actually be able to do the things you want to do with all that new freedom you will now have as a result, because the wealth at this stage of life, provides a false blanket of security that makes it feel as though it is a safe enough thing to do, but this is also what makes it so destructive. You will both fight terribly, almost animalistic in nature, over the most minute and stupid and silly little things, because you are so far outside of your own control at this point that you will fight for even the smallest shreds of it.

A few years later, you find yourself full of bitterness, unable to do those things you so wished to do with all that freedom, because now you have doubled your financial commitments and you must work twice as hard to upkeep all of the things you have invited into your life, because your body moves at half the speed it used to, because you never faced the problem, the actual problem, because, well, you never at any point chose to live your own life. Beaten down by all of it, worn out, you will at last, throw your hands up to the sky and give up because you know it is already over, this is the end, and you have barely lived out half your life.

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Perhaps you will get remarried, once, or twice. Perhaps your kids will come visit you on holidays, a quarter with you, because they must spend another quarter with your former spouse, and also, a quarter each with the divorced parents of your children’s newly acquired spouses, and you will find they don’t have much time for you, well, because you raised them to be like you, they are busy and their time is valuable.

So, then, several lonely years later, nearly half a lifetime later, you will finally, truly meet the end, at least the end in the sense of breaths and heartbeats and flesh and bones, because you were long dead well before this moment even arrived. You will know the last years, were the worst years, that loss of control, of freedom, during the fading years was inevitable, and that you wasted the years where freedom was even remotely possible, and that you slept through the entire experience, even if at times it felt as though you were not sleeping at all because you were conscious weren’t you, you must have been conscious, you were working so hard. And so, as whatever disease you were misfortunate enough to have been inflicted with makes its final assault on whatever part of you that is still barely alive, a few small tears will form in the bottom corner of those eyes, those beautiful human eyes that were meant to take in so much consciousness, and you won’t cry because at last you can see, but because you are a stubborn non-thinking thing and you are simply satisfied that a lifetime of suffering and herding has finally met its end. The end, the end must mean something right? If you made it this far, it couldn’t have all been a waste, could it have? You made the journey. You did everything they said you should. And so, you will ask that all-important question, was it worth it? But you will never know, and it is of no matter to you anymore anyway, because in death, it is too late to be asking questions about life, and that right there, that is the problem.

This kind of life, this cattle life, is not life at all, and you might wish to argue against this, and that would be fine because I am not attempting to sell anyone on the notion that their lives are not valuable, indeed, quite the opposite. Still, we could likely agree the sort of life I am talking about, is visibly unhappy. And I think, well, of course it is, anything, even non-thinking things are unhappy when they are outside of their own control, in the same way a tree first withers then dies if its roots have been obstructed from growing freely. What if we could go back to the beginning however, and relive the journey, would anything be different?

So then, let’s suppose that you could go back to the beginning and start this journey all over again, only this time, you would know from the onset, the journey that you were about to undertake, at least insofar as your present journey had previously taken you. You could not go as far back as the source of course since we must imagine ourselves somewhere within the finite set of possibilities that derive from our own personal experiences. You would however, arguably, be in a much better position to navigate the journey ahead in knowing the direction and possibilities that lie ahead. And in knowing such things, how might you make the journey this time around? Would you have pursued different people or let some others go? Might you have ventured down some tributary to explore or to expose yourself to experiences you had previously not been exposed to? I believe you would.

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Now imagine you could do this as many times as you wished, go back to the beginning that is. Each time you did, you would be able to keep every experience from the previous journey. Presumably, you would get better and better each time, pre-empting the bends in the river, the rough bits, and the like, however, each time, you would go just little bit further, and then just a little bit further more, because within the finite amount of possibilities the river could present, you would have experienced everything the river could offer up until a certain point, so you push on each time.

Let’s imagine then, that you did this an infinite amount of times, until your legs could no longer keep your head above water, and you had truly come to the end, now holding onto those few final breaths of this world. Presumably, tired and having experienced every imaginable possibility your life could have presented, you would concede to the force and let yourself go. However, even in this, as a human, you will inevitably ask yourself right before you do, was it worth it? Having known everything there was to be known and having experienced everything there was to experience, I am inclined to think and you might disagree with me, that your answer will still be no, it wasn’t worth it after all, because no matter what you did, if you ended up where the river carried you in the end, you never really did find that freedom you sought after all, did you?

The fact is if our lives are truly like leaves, and they are, when we hit the surface of the water, we had already begun to die. So, in knowing that and in knowing we get one shot at this, why would we simply go where the river takes us? Kick, swim, struggle, do anything you can to make it to some bit of shoreline to call your own, and when you get there, free of the flow of the river, don’t stop there, dig, dig with your hands if you must, to carve out the land, to divert the flow into a calm pool, a pool that is your own.

The dreamer already knows this, only they are often too afraid to open themselves to the possibility that they are the ones who are conscious and not everyone else. Will you wait until the end to ask yourself was it worth it, or will you take that risk now?

No Years Lost,

A Young Giant

THE DIVIDED LINE : : NONLINEAR BEHAVIOUR

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Imagine the world as if it were a raft adrift at sea. Billions of people upon one raft, each with one oar, each with one contribution to the direction of all of humanity. As it is tossed about by the elements, it remains stationary, because every man, woman and child rows for himself. With every stroke, they only add to an already turbulent sea. Each person never really sees their true reflection here as the wild splashes of the person next to them obscures their vision and because of this, they never really know where the ripples of their actions have travelled, if they have travelled at all.

Over time, the currents bring debris from far off places alongside this raft. Every piece within reach is brought aboard because they do not know what they are looking for, only that they are looking for something they have not yet found. Some of this debris proves valuable, though most is junk that only crowds and weighs down the raft.

Now, imagine a second raft. This raft has very few people aboard, those few who were at one time brave enough to test their strength and fortitude in the turbulent seas to make the crossing. Once there, in calmer waters, they were able to see a true reflection of themselves for the first time. On this raft, they discovered if they rowed together, in the same direction, that they were able to control their direction, their destiny. As such, this raft is able to travel to far off places and even though each passenger is heading in the same direction, they never lose sight of who they are and are able to watch the course of their actions because their wake is strong and congruent.

And yet, as a result of their travels, they only ever pass the other raft from time to time. However, it is those aboard this raft that have loosened valuable debris from other places, as well as, placed things in the water that might aid the other. Those aboard this raft have always wished to help the raft they left behind, but are fearful that if they tie up with it, too many will board too quickly and sink their own, thereby, ruining everything they had risked so much to achieve. Occasionally, as this raft passes the other, few will again risk the waters to swim back and convince others to make the return crossing with them.

Then, imagine this circularity has occurred since the beginning of time until the most recent passing, where the latter raft had finally discovered the tools to create the machinery that would allow them to set a long line to tie off with the other. In doing so, they would be able to tow it, so that it was no longer going nowhere. More so, while the two would still be kept at a great distance, it would create a linkage at all times, which would offer continuous passage. Of course, the crossing would still require the brave, the strong, and the fortitude, those still willing to risk the waters, only now, they would have clear direction. Then, when they were within sight of the lead raft, those aboard could jump back in the waters and offer the final encouragement, in some cases, even carry them the final distance.

Finally, imagine this had already been done.

Two years ago, I began building the basic machinery and braved the waters one last time to tether the line between these two rafts. This is an invitation to those who have been looking for something their entire lives, who knew endless possibility existed somewhere just beyond the horizon, but had been too afraid to leave the safety of the raft. No Years Lost is a promise to those of you brave enough to swim the waters between where you are and where you ought to be, that we will guide you there, that you will discover your true self there and along your journey, that you will become a part of something greater, that you will guide the world in a better direction, and perhaps, be one of the few who might change it – you might just move mountains.

You have been a dreamer your entire life. Our dreams are perhaps the one thing every person on any raft has in common. Share those with your fellow man. Believe in our dream now, that we might change the world by helping you achieve yours, as we have believed in yours since before your journey ever began. We wait on you, hand outstretched, all you have to do is jump in and follow the divided line.

No Years Lost,

A Young Giant

FIVE LESSONS – THINGS YOU ACQUIRE WHILE FULFILLING YOUR DREAMS

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Throughout the years, I have always attempted to make the most of every moment, or at least as much as my current situation would allow (dreams still exist in the realm of reality after all.) Nevertheless, it wasn’t until I was twenty-four that I really set out upon my first real journey towards fulfilling my dreams. Since then, I have written a screenplay for a feature film and rewritten several others, created a television show, appeared on television several times, been involved in a well-known musician’s world tour, been involved in another’s two North-American tours, helped build a successful clothing label, as well as, written and created for several others, created four businesses, worked in philanthropy, travelled the world, lived in other cities, and even absurdly, been a guest at a prince’s birthday party.

Why mention any of this? Well, as you will see when you arrive at the second lesson, I am not gloating. Rather, I am wishing to simply express that these were my dreams at the time they were pursued and I was able to achieve them. Everyone dreams differently, which is such a beautiful thing, and in many ways, what I am attempting to illuminate here. The things I learned by walking these many, but similar paths, would eventually lead me to discover my own truth. So, in many ways, they were only precursors to revealing my true dream. That being said, had I never begun the pursuit of each of those in the first place, I would likely never have arrived at that dream, which is of course, No Years Lost. In essence, to create something that would allow others to more easily pursue their own dreams because what I had discovered while pursuing those earlier dreams was that what I really loved most was helping others achieve their dreams through creativity.

As for me, I wouldn’t change a thing, because had one thing been different, I would never have arrived at that truth. I made many mistakes over those years and many times over, which if I had been able to avoid, would have made my own journey much less difficult. These lessons are implicitly built into the functionality of No Years Lost and in many ways became its foundation. Nonetheless, I believe it is important to think consciously about such things, and so here are those lessons.

1. Live Your Truth

This is perhaps the most difficult thing to do. At present, and throughout most of your journey, until you near the very end, you will have few believers, if any. This is especially true at the beginning of your journey, where you will likely discover you are the only one who can envision what you are trying to achieve. More so, you will encounter many naysayers, those who wish to see you fail or are perhaps too narrow-minded to share your vision.

Do not get discouraged. Do not deviate. Believe in the dream and envision yourself already there. I am not talking about some new-age voodoo shit, which by its very existence is necessitated by the unreal. I am talking about confidence. There is nothing more attractive. The more confidant you are, not only in yourself, but also, your dream, you will experience an almost gravitational pull of likeminded individuals, supporters, and believers. Ergo, you must believe in yourself first.

This leads to one final point; make sure you are doing it for yourself. If you are pursuant of something, simply to prove yourself or something to others, you will be exposed immediately. More so, you will be incapable of achieving it anyway for lack of belief. If you find yourself here, go back to the beginning.

2. Show Humility

The lesson is old, and yet, easily forgettable. If you will remember previously, I said, “confident,” not, “cocky.” You might have forgotten this already. In Greek mythology we are told the story of Icarus, who with wax wings, flew too closely to the sun, inevitably, they melted, and he was swiftly returned to the unforgiving ground beneath.

The journey to fulfillment is long. Subsequently, it is easy to get carried away with those first gains. Ego has this nasty tendency of getting in the way of clarity, oftentimes clouding ones motivations when making important decisions, and to be certain, every decision along the path to fulfillment is an important one. A misstep here can take you years off course and away from your destination.

Moreover, cockiness to most people is generally off-putting. When you arrive at the next lesson, you will find it will have been especially important to have shown humility along the way, because you never know whom you might encounter that you might need to call upon at some point.

3. Ask For Help

Don’t be afraid to ask for help. The saying is old but as true as the first time it was uttered, “If it was easy, everyone would do it.” Most people, or at least most people that are worth calling upon for help, will understand that whatever dream you are undertaking, regardless of scope, is personally very difficult.

It is easy to assume, nobody will understand, or that since it is your dream, you are the only person that could possibly have the answers. This would be false. Sometimes we are pulled so deeply into the pursuit of the dream that we get tunnel vision and are unable to see things that others might.

Additionally, going back to ego, if we are struggling along the way, we are often afraid of being exposed as a failure. This is untrue. You will find there are many willing people out there, so long as you follow lesson two, that will make themselves available for help without passing any judgment. If they belong to the sort that do, you shouldn’t be asking for their help anyway. You should be able to separate between the two. You might even find, through collaboration and community, that you gain a new believer.

Lastly, you needn’t even ask for help that is specific to your dream. The journey can be very taxing in ways that are mentally, physically, and financially draining to the rest of your life, obtaining help in alleviating any of these pressures, will make your journey much less difficult, and therefore, much more rewarding.

4. Be Dependable

Pursuing your dreams takes a considerable amount of time and energy. It is easy to find yourself overburdened as it were. In such cases, it is best not to take on more commitments. Those close to you will have more leeway than those who are not, either way, a simple, “no,” is always more respectable than an unmet, “yes.” You would be surprised how much respect, “no,” carries.

Sometimes, the belief is that you might be missing out on an opportunity of sorts. Use your best judgment as this may be true. Still, if you have the slightest doubt that you will be unable to fulfill the additional commitment, whether you think it will be valuable to you or not, do not do it, it will be a net loss, for that particular opportunity, those involved, and importantly, your dream.

The caveat to this of course is that you still need to enjoy the moments along the way, take the time to do so. Whatever you find fulfilling, even if it is outside of your dream, is of great value. You might even find that such a departure provides new insights or ignites new fires.

5. Find A Mentor

This is perhaps the most important lesson. As I mentioned earlier, everyone dreams differently, which is not to be taken as, everyone’s dream is different. You might think you are alone in this. That no one ever could possibly see or understand your vision. That it is so unique. That you are so unique, that it is impossible anything like it ever existed before. Don’t be stupid. Everything comes from something. There has at one point in time existed at least some variation of the world you are wishing to create.

A strong mentor will not only provide many narrower lessons that I could not outline here because they are more specific to your dream, but also, provide inspiration, insight, and challenge you to go even further than you had previously thought possible or considered. You will wish to outgun them as it were, and they will not only be okay with this, but will encourage it.

As you will see, the relationship tends to become equally rewarding for the mentor. They will benefit from you in as many ways and for someone who has walked a similar path before you, having arrived at that beautiful end; they will have great contentment in helping guide you there. You will also learn from them that once they reached that end, they found they could not stop, they wished to go further, and ultimately, wished to have companionship.

Beware however, the imitator. You might encounter those along the way that appear as mentors, but have little interest in mentorship. If you sense an ulterior motive, then run like hell. These people are only there to take and exploit. You will know if you have found an authentic mentor or not, when all they wish to do, is focus on your dream or shared interests.

Lastly, your mentor needn’t be alive, or necessarily within reach of a personal relationship. Learn about these people, understand them, unearth their journey, their beliefs, their challenges, and then, one-up them. They would have wanted it that way.

I would have loved to get pissy on some MoĂ«t and AlizĂ© with Biggie and talked about his process and inspiration behind Sky’s the Limit, but some things, really are just outside of the realm of reality. Either way, he left this behind for all of us, and isn’t that the dream?

Sky is the limit and you know that you keep on,

just keep on pressin on.

Sky is the limit and you know that you can have

what you want, be what you want. 

Notorious BIG

Good luck on your journey and when you meet that beautiful end, let us know what it looks like from there.

No Years Lost,

A Young Giant

IMMORTALITY : : HOW TO LIVE

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As humanity pushes deeper into the technological bulge, it continues to obscure our reality of the world around us. Never before has figuring out “How to live?” or more importantly, “How to live meaningfully?” been so important.

Our world is becoming increasingly complicated despite humanity’s greatest efforts to create tools that would make it less so, yet, never before has it been so connected as a result of this seemingly singular goal. No Years Lost was created in the face of this paradox, to exploit this new world that now made its very existence achievable, not to make life less complicated, but to make life more meaningful.

It was our belief from the onset, that by building a community of young dreamers, or specifically, those who were following their true purpose in life, and by allowing them to do so through the aforementioned tools that they were already familiar with, but that were in fact making their lives more complicated, that we might uncover the answer to that all important question, “How do we live a meaningful life?”

The answer of course differs for everyone, though most live the entirety of their lives fearful of unreal things, things that never existed, like perception and failure, always asking the wrong questions, how will I be perceived, what if I fail, what will tomorrow bring, so forth and so on. These questions of course only ever getting in the way of the one question that truly matters.

Eternity is perhaps the problem in and of itself, and is in so many ways what most of us seek, though will never find. By observing, connecting and supporting the lives of the dreamers who are positively changing the world by living life and not questioning it, we knew that we would send less dreams to the grave, and ultimately, make the world a better place. At the minimum, we would make the lives of those individuals a better place.

As humans, we must live everyday as though it might be our last, because in doing so, we will never have a last, everyday will have been our first. Our hope is that your existence might continue on sometime after you expire, if only, in the memory of others, in a fleeting moment, in a triggered heartbeat, in the simplicity of a whisper, and that is our dream, our only dream, that by helping you live out and realize your own, that you might leave a beautiful and lasting impression in the wax of eternity.

The following is an excerpt from Glen O’Brien’s How to be a Man. He is perhaps one of the most interesting men still alive today, who has indeed witnessed much of this rampant change, in addition to having lived out many dreams throughout the course of his life. Sometimes looking to the lessons learned by the dreamers before us is the best approach to understanding how to live today. Here is what he has to say on the subjects of life and eternity:

According to a poll by ABC News, eighty-nine percent of Americans believe in Heaven think and that they are probably going to end up there. Most believe that Paradise will house their spirit only, although the resurrection of the body is old Christian doctrine and part of the Roman Catholic creed. Among Americans it is mostly very religious Protestants, the demographic that also tends to see Heaven as Christians only, who believe that their meat puppets will rejoin them in the future when Jesus makes his encore.

A smaller percentage of the populace believes in the existence of Hell, only fifty-nine percent according to a 2008 Pew Forum survey (down from seventy-one percent in a 2001 Gallup poll). The Catholic Church also preaches the existence of Purgatory, where those not sufficiently pure for Heaven will suffer temporal punishment until their sins are cleansed. For centuries this tenet was a tremendous source of revenue for the Church in the form of indulgence marketing. The Roman Catholic Church also posited the existence of a fourth state of afterlife known as Limbo, where the unbaptized reside until the Last Judgment. Actually there have been two Limbos. The Limbo of the Fathers was where Old Testament patriarchs resided until Christ “descended into Hell” and opened the gates of Heaven to them. Then there was the Limbo of Infants (which has been considerably de-emphasized in recent years), where the souls of dead, unbaptized infants are held; their ultimate fate remains unspecified.

The current pope, Benedict XVI, authorized the publication The Hope of Salvation for Infants Who Die Without Being Baptized. Authored by the Pope’s think tank, the International Theological Commission, it holds out some hope that the unbaptized will eventually enjoy the beatific vision. Church authorities have denied, however, that the current Pope has “closed Limbo.” Still, the specifics of even Heaven and Hell have become very sketchy.

Culturally we still seem to be living with a sort of Dante’s Inferno view of Hell, while Heaven remains a mix of Renaissance paintings of angelic aerial maneuvres around God’s throne and New Yorker cartoons with clouds, harps, and halos. With 3-D production taking over Hollywood, a new model of the afterlife is overdue. Heaven will probably look a lot like the saccharine 1998 Robin Williams vehicle What Dreams May Come, and Hell like the wretched John Cusack vehicle 2012.

But more and more of us are abandoning traditional Christian scenarios and going Far Eastern on the issue, taking up with enthusiasm the reincarnation beliefs of Buddhists and Hindus. I think its hard for hedonists to imagine bliss without a body. For some reason, Americans and Europeans who become interested in their cycles of incarnation generally find that they were Egyptian royals. But try as we might, we tend to wind up facing the facts that we just don’t remember past lives, do they really matter anyway?

Personally I’m hoping for reincarnation in a good-looking body, but I’m not holding my breath. There isn’t much one can do to prepare for a possible afterlife, aside from entering the void with an open mind and a cheerful disposition. Attachment to a world in which circumstances will not allow us to remain can only spoil our enjoyment of experiences to come, if any.

The best we can do is to make ourselves immortal the American way-incoporate. Our flesh may shrivel and die, but our corporate beings can last…well, forever-ish. We can’t all be Fords, or Edisons, or Jack Daniels, but hopefully we can leave something behind-a stack of books, a company, maybe a dynasty. And hopefully what we have left behind will continue to enrich the world and enrich our family, friends, and well-wishers. Who knows? Maybe we will ourselves move on to some reward or punishment and find amusing companionship among the blessed we encounter, or the damned, as the case may be. But if we are extinguished, at least, we have left behind something of a fan club of family, friends, and well-wishers and move on.

Should you find yourself floating above your prone body, hovering somewhere around the ceiling of your boudoir or hospital bed, you may be on the way out of this present sphere. This is no time to panic. It happens to everyone. We have all heard stories of “going toward the light,” and undoubtedly in such circumstances one has little to lose by following the conventional wisdom. However, perusal of the Egyptian and Tibetan books of the dead, as well as the traditions of Greek mystery cults, provides certain clues that might help. If the light happens to be accompanied by noxious smoke, its best not to go in that direction. You might wind up right back where you started. Or in Detroit.

Should you find yourself before the Halls of Judgment, the best policy is probably to follow the advice of Orpheus as channeled by Robert Graves: Avoid drinking from the black spring on the left, which is Forgetfulness; go to the clear, goldfish-stocked fountain on the right guarded by the big snake-that’s Memory-and tell them that you’re very thirsty and Persephone sent you.

And if that doesn’t work, tell them Groucho sent you.

Glenn O’Brien How to be a Man

Presumably, if you are here reading this, you have not yet had to face the Halls of Judgment, in the afterlife at least. So, in the meantime, we would suggest staying thirsty and taking a piss in fountain of Memory, let the others drink.

Oh, and tell them No Years Lost sent you.

No Years Lost,

A Young Giant