Finding yourself is hard because yourself likes to stay hidden. The closer you get to yourself, the more evasive it becomes, hiding behind trees, under stones, or in the unlikeliest places. And then once you have finally found yourself, you grip it hard only to see it wiggle free. Was that yourself that you saw and understood the moment that it slipped away? Or did it change just as you were getting a really good look at it?
Some people believe in an afterlife, but everyone believes their current life. Most people spend so much time wondering what people are saying about them while they are alive; social media curated selves, Internet reputations, water cooler gossip. But maybe they should spend more time wondering what people are going to say about them after they are dead. I have wondered how different the world would be if for every moment that every person spent looking in the mirror concerned about how they look, or fiddling with their hair, teeth, or profile picture, they had also spent a minute in the real world, trying to make lives better of those around them. Kind of a matching time program, where for every minute of self-love you donate a minute of love for others. Pedaling my bike for hundreds of miles along empty country roads, I have the time and space to think about some of these things in a leisurely way that I can’t really do when I am otherwise occupied with life.
One thing that I came up with yesterday was a series of epitaphs. You actually get to choose your own epitaph if you want to. But what if there were a truth-in-epitaphs law requiring every epitaph to actually be true? Would that change things for people? I doubt it. Anyway, here are some things that people might carve on your headstone, things that occurred to me through the spinning of the cranks.
- He loved television.
- She had a lot of money.
- He wore a lot of fashionable bicycling outfits.
- She crushed it on Strava.
- He was a beast on the group ride.
- Her children did not like her very much.
- His employees thought he was unkind and cruel.
- She had very little, but happily shared whatever she had.
- When people couldn’t afford it, he did it for free.
- She was always kind to children.
- People always came to him for help with their problems.
- She inspired help with her words and deeds.
- He devoted his life to not paying taxes.
- When she died, people fought over her money.
- He was very handsome.
- She had a generous and loving spirit.
- He had the best social media posts.
- She was beautiful.
- People feared him.
- She left behind beautiful poetry.
- Children hated him.
- She had a big, beautiful house.
- He had expensive cars.
- She fed the hungry.
- He never asked for anything in return.
- She protected the weak.
- He always got the best of any bargain.
- She had many shoes.
- He loved animals.
- When she came into a room people would smile and feel glad.
- He always dominated his opponents.
- She never cared about winning and losing.
- He lived happily, and he died happily.