Unsolicited Advice for Living in the End Times, Vol 20

You’re probably thinking that I’m choosing to interpret things the way I want to, seeing what I want to see. Well, right you are.

Today I read an interview with the founder of the New Inquiry, and during the conversation, my name came up. In a journalistic, if not anthropological, attempt to describe me, I was said to have “a bit of a belly.” I took this description as meaning I had a bit too much of a belly rather than being in possession of only a small part of one. I would venture to guess that in certain societies, my bread­basket might seem somewhat overstuffed, but that’s not the world I live in. When most people see any late-in-life pictures of Orson Welles, they are shocked by his girth, wondering how this great genius could waste his life just getting large and larger. When I come across any images of the portly maestro, I ask, How did he squeeze so much happiness into one life and then still squeeze in some more?

Just about now you’re probably thinking that I’m choosing to interpret things the way I want to, seeing what I want to see. Well, right you are, but more important, right you will be, if you can learn to personalize your own life story as you live it. I have a vivid dream life that, mixed with my muddied sense of reality, left me no choice but to be in a constant state of do-over. And let me tell you, it works if you work it.

Universal truth is so elusive. Like the unicorn, it might not even exist, so as the end of time approaches, it seems pointless and wasteful to keep pursuing it.

Now when fabricating this new outlook on life, you still need some kind of fair witness to guide you in the construction of your meta-reality. Otherwise you could find yourself blinded by the rose-colored glasses you’ve only just put on. You need to achieve some kind of balance, and it’s not easy. You might worry that you’re just rebranding yourself, but it’s more like building a better brand of you. It’s just getting to know yourself as well your search engine does.

This isn’t some kind of virtual second life, rather a chance to re-evaluate the way you perceive your actual life. Once you have the proper perception in place, you’ve got yourself a new reality. The beauty part is if it breaks down, you can tweak it or acquire an entirely new slant. It’s your end of times—you drive it.

Still, there are dangers in being your own creator. If you need to delude yourself a bit, that’s fine, but I recommend small doses. You want to avoid becoming one of those heavy-handed self-creators who have no limits to their own grandeur. What do you think allows Jay Z to presume that just his presence is charity and that his very corporeal existence is the highest form of benevolence he can bestow on his fellow humans? That being said, I must say I do appreciate his going green and removing the hyphen from his name.

While we all want to be hearing good news, we don’t want to lose our ability to smell a rat. For example, you might hear the new pope saying that being gay is not a sin and it’s not for him to judge, but overlook him saying that acting gay is indeed very much a sin. It’s a veritable “some of my best friends are…” moment and not to be ignored. You don’t want to get caught thinking someone is giving a thumb’s-up when they are saying only that they won’t point a finger.

There are many responsibilities in being the architect of your own existence, so tread carefully. But make sure you’re wearing your favorite shoes.