How thinking about the end can help you find your muse
FOR THE PAST 33 YEARS, I HAVE LOOKED IN THE MIRROR EVERY MORNING AND ASKED MYSELF: "IF TODAY WERE THE LAST DAY OF MY LIFE, WOULD I WANT TO DO WHAT I AM ABOUT TO DO TODAY?" AND WHENEVER THE ANSWER HAS BEEN "NO" FOR TOO MANY DAYS IN A ROW, I KNOW I NEED TO CHANGE SOMETHING...ALMOST EVERYTHING - ALL EXTERNAL EXPECTATIONS, ALL PRIDE, ALL FEAR OF EMBARRASSMENT OR FAILURE - THESE THINGS JUST FALL AWAY IN THE FACE OF DEATH, LEAVING ONLY WHAT IS TRULY IMPORTANT. REMEMBERING THAT YOU ARE GOING TO DIE IS THE BEST WAY I KNOW TO AVOID THE TRAP OF THINKING YOU HAVE SOMETHING TO LOSE.
We have all been told to live every day as if it was our last day on Earth, but how many of us have truly contemplated this endgame scenario? By examining what would you do if this was your last chance to do something, you are better able to find out what motivates and inspires you.
The last of anything and everything
If this was your last day on earth, what would you do?
Everyone has been asked this question before, but I will go ahead and ask it anyway. If you went to a doctor and found out that you had been poisoned and had 24 hours to live, what would you do? Would you go to church? Visit your family? Would you find a way to go out in style?Would you do something that you always wanted to do, but never did?
If this was the last day of Earth what would you do?
If the one comet that we are always worried about finally shows up and everyone has one day left before they are turned into fossil fuel, what would you do? Would you party like there is no tomorrow? Would you frantically look for a way for you and your family to survive the coming apocalypse? Would you finally find religion?
If today was the last day of the internet, what would look up?
Let us say that scientists have discovered a giant solar flare that is going to unleash a magnetic storm that will essentially destroy every electronic thing on earth. You have just 24 hours before all the digitized media that exists today is wiped away, never to be recovered again. What would be the last things you would look up before losing the internet as you know it? Would you log onto YouTube that one last time and check out that funny video of the dancing baby that will no longer exist. Would you go to your blog and print out all your entries, so at least you have a hardcopy? Or, would you go to your favorite social network site and say goodbye to all your friends and promise to write a traditional letter?
If you were allowed only one picture, what would it be?
Let’s pretend that a law was passed that forbade people from owning more than one picture. What image would you want to keep? Would it be your family portrait? That one high school photo where your hair looked so great? Or, would it be a photo of something else entirely different?
One of the best ways to find inspiration is to think of these types of endgame scenarios. When we are confronted with an end of something or with the end of ourselves we are forced to ask and decide what is important to us. By tapping into these feeling we find ourselves better able to separate the important things from the marginal things. When we are forced to make a choice, what really matters becomes clearer.
Next time you are looking for true inspiration, try using the last of everything exercise in order to find your true motivation. For example, if you are painter, ask yourself what you would paint if today was the last day you could paint, or if you are a cook, ask yourself what meal would you cook if it was to be your last meal. By living and acting like today was your last day for something, you might be surprised as to what truly motivates you.