w: ajleon

This Is Not Your Practice Life

Leave a mark that can’t erase neither space nor time. So when the director yells cut, I’ll be fine, I’m forever young. – Shawn Carter, Forever Young 2009 AD.

Who can go up to heaven? Only the gods dwell forever. Men number their days. But even if I fall I will win fame. And fame lasts forever. – Gilgamesh, King of Uruk 2700 BC. 

To be a king in 18th Century BC Mesopotamia was to live in a perennial state of cognitive dissonance.

On the one hand, the Sumerian King List stipulated that Kingship had descended from the heavens, thereby promulgating a deeply held belief amongst your subjects that you, the King, would live forever.

Yet on the other.

With each passing year, each passing decade, you would have had the empirical evidence that you were indeed getting older – you were a bit slower, a bit grayer, a bit more irritable – and you would have known with acute certainty that irrespective of religious dogma or cultural notion, regardless of what the people believed or what the priests testified, that you were, in fact, not immortal. That you were just like everyone else.

And that this life.

Was your one and only.

One of the oldest surviving works of literature, The Epic of Gilgamesh tells a tale of a king wrestling tremendously with the excruciating weight of his own mortality.

Two entire books of the narrative are dedicated to Gilgamesh’s insatiable quest to find the source of eternal life, a fool’s errand leading to the elusive immortality that a stone tablet had promised him as a boy.

But there is no wonder why he would dedicate his life to such a pursuit.

After all, the Sumerian afterlife was a wretched place. An underground dystopian land which was neither fully bright nor completely dark, where food was tasteless, water was fragile and the people, fully naked, meandered aimlessly and somber for the whole of eternity. So horrifically Kafkaesque was the thought of this cavernous joint that when Gilgamesh’s best friend Enkidu died, he refused to bury him for seven days – until the burial became compulsory.

For six days and seven nights I wept over him, I did not allow him to be buried, until a worm came out of his nose. 

Soon after the death of his friend, Gilgamesh comes to terms with the fact that his days are indeed numbered and turns his attention instead to acquiring Fame, and so embarks on a variety of dangerous conquests, including challenging the Giant Hugeness to a battle because, in his own words…

even if I fall I will win fame. And fame lasts forever.

Not so different a sentiment was uttered by a different sort of king, Shawn Carter (aka Jay Z), 4,700 years later in the lyrics of his song Forever Young.

Leave a mark that can’t erase neither space nor time. So when the director yells cut, I’ll be fine, I’m forever young.

__

Six years ago, standing in a corner office overlooking the Manhattan skyline, with a promotion just offered me in hand, I decided in one brief moment of audacity to leave my career and everything I had ever known to pursue a life of adventure and purpose, to pursue my everything.

I often get asked how I could have possibly done that four days before my wedding with only two thousand dollars in savings.

You want to know the truth?

It was the moment that I caught myself mourning the glory of a Life that could have been.

It was the second that the universe whispered in my ear.

This is Not your practice Life. 

And when that sentiment ceased to be esoteric bullsh*t, when the poetry of that statement dissolved into the full weight of its truth and practicality, I began to make wildly different decisions.

I began to recognize that living for tomorrow is nowhere near as potent as living for right here and right now.

___

In many ways, to me at least, Gilgamesh is a tragic hero, who fleetingly dedicates his one and only life to seeking immortality only to recognize the immutable truth that every beating heart has ever known since time immemorial.

Nothing lasts forever.

But what can we do with this?

Well, in a world that beckons us to either comply and live in the shadows or like Gilgamesh seek to live a life centrifuged around a bankrupt idea of  “living forever” through accumulation or exaltation, maybe we can do something different.

Maybe you and I can live for today.

And decide, once and for all, not to be governed by Fear nor entranced by Fame.

Maybe you can make each and everyday flamboyantly your own.

And recognize that this Life is yours. And that it is your one and only.

___

Oscar Wilde once penned,

To live is the rarest thing in the world, most people exist, that is all.

It’s true, there are certainly those among us who simply exist, who daily sacrifice their lives to a system they cannot seem to free themselves from. But equally, there are those among us who simply want to be remembered, who squander their days in an absurdist pursuit of some vapid postmortem glory.

I don’t know about you, but I just want to Live.

Today.

Deliberately. Intentionally. Wildly.
__

Conformity is certainly an enemy, that’s for sure.

But so is the hubris of shaping the contours of your one and only Life around the insentient notion that somehow you will only be valid if people whom you will never meet 100 years hence, know of you.

Look around you.

There are people that need you right now.

There is sunset or a sunrise that you are missing right now.

There is a long list of generous writing or art or innovative projects that are in your Moleskine waiting for you right now.

The cold pressed truth is that you only live this one time, but if you do it right, one time may just be enough.

 

From Stratford-on-Avon

Your fellow misfit,

AJ

 

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Misfit News: 

@ajleon | @misfit_inc | @goodmisfit | @twitgift | Facebook POE

Late last year, I did something I had never done before and decided to privately launch a beta consulting program to provide one on one GoToMeeting video calls with misfits who were in the midst of trying to launch a project – a book, a non-profit, a business venture – but were in need of some guidance. As I couldn’t be on video calls every single moment of every day, we accepted applications and I began working with 15 different people, helping them form their different concepts. I’ve always been a bit tentative about offering things like this, but I’m happy to say that it has been incredibly successful and these folks are all off and running with their respective projects. Because of this, I’ve decided to extend the Misfit Conspiracy Call program for another 3 months. If you are in the midst of putting together a project, and would like to borrow my experience and guidance to help you assemble it, please apply here.

The team at Misfit Press and I have been brainstorming the possibility of launching a 6 month long Misfit Press mentorship program for serious writers in need of self publishing guidance. As opposed to producing a static video-based course, we are considering the viability of offering monthly one on one consultation with our team. This would include assistance in the areas of writing, editing, design, project management, crowd funding, independent printing, marketing, distribution and web. If we decide to move forward with the program, we will only be able to accept a handful of people because of time constraints, and will only be accepting candidates who already have a concrete concept for a book and are serious about publishing. There will be a variety of perks, such as access to Misfit Press’s propriety Indesign templates, publishing guidelines, unlimited personal access to ask our team questions specific to your project as well as access to our vendors at discounted rates. It will certainly be a program for those who have always wanted to publish, but have lacked the accountability and guidance to do so. Because of the personal nature of the program, it will not be inexpensive but payment plans will be made available to those in need of them. If you are a serious writer and are interested, you can sign up to receive an update when/if we launch the program here

Did you know? That last year Misfit relaunched the world’s first social enchantment platform. It’s called Twitgift and for the past year it has only been available to large brands seeking a visceral and personal way to connect with their customers and fans, but in the next few weeks, we will finally be releasing it to the public! Twitgift for Everyone draweth nigh, and our fearless CEO is up day and night vociferously checking for quality control before we launch. 

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Has Mark Zuckerburg validated our friendship yet? 

1501 words

2.21.14

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