This post may be a bit dark, and it’s fine if you think it is, but I hope you can appreciate that these are just thoughts and observations that I need, or in this case want, to put out there because they make up a part of my travels and my varying points of view on life.
I can remember one of the first times I thought about death not just in terms of what happens to you after, but in terms of what you leave behind, your legacy, and the impacts it may or may not have on others. During my teens I thought about it quite a bit, about my parents dying, and then inevitably about me dying. I liked to think back then that I was ready, and indeed I thought there was little chance of living to be 30. I even remember being a bit nervous a few months before my 30th birthday. Then that past, and I figured, I had no prescient abilities and have since relaxed about that. But lately, over the past year or so, I’ve found myself thinking about death considerably more. I think that’s part of getting older, but I think it also has a lot to do with the fact that not being in the safety of my apartment, I recognize that the risks are much higher on the road. It’s not that I fear getting killed randomly by someone. That’s actually quite low in terms of my list of “what ifs”. Much higher on that list is a bus accident, car accident, random hit & run, drowning, or an adventure gone wrong due to faulty equipment or something of the like. People die in bus accidents in South America all the time. Just 3 weeks ago something like 17 people died going from Cusco to Lima. And that’s one I randomly heard about. This happens all the time. And I take about a dozen bus trips per month. I’ve been on motorcycles, mopeds, taxis, bikes, boats, planes, ferries, cable cars and a bunch of other modes of people moving. And I have certainly noticed I’m way more sensitive to stuff now than I’ve ever been. I remember being on a boat crossing from Belize to Guatemala and being essentially terrified. The boat was overcrowded and slow, and every time it rocked even slightly to one side my heart skipped a beat. I have that feeling in buses too sometimes where, taking a corner the bus leans one way and it throws my sense of security right out the window. I’ve always considered myself rather fearless but I cannot hold that moniker any longer, it’s obvious that I am far from that. Just today I rappeled out of the 17th floor of a building in the middle of La Paz, and that first step out the window was absolutely terrifying. As I mentioned in a previous post, I don’t like accepting limits, particularly not the ones I’ve set for myself out of fear, so I did it again and it was awesome. There’s always something waiting for you when you breach that barrier but the fear never really seems to subside.
But with death, it’s more than just what can happen on the road, in some random place, at a moment least expected. I do take my precautions but I also take my risks. It’s not just that. I find myself wondering often whether I’ve come here to die. Don’t misunderstand me, I have no desire to die, and while I think I’m more prepared now than I have been in the past, it’s still not something I feel particularly comfortable with, but that thought does cross my mind more often than I would have expected. Maybe it’s the same type of thought as not expecting to live past 30 but it’s certainly a thought that’s recurring. Thing is, spending all this time alone, the long bus rides, the meditation sessions, your mind goes to a huge number of places. This is one of them. The question is, is this prescience or paranoia or just something normal? I don’t know. But the fact that this has and does come up means I need to pay it some attention at the very least. And what I ask myself is, if somewhere in the back of my mind, I knew something was wrong with me, that my time was limited, and that’s what drove me to make such a radical life decision and spend the next or maybe final years of my life on the road. I can’t know, but maybe I have something eating away at me, a terminal illness, cancer, a broken heart that only has a set number of beats left. Maybe that’s what has lead me down here and maybe I’ll die one day on the road, in a bus, in my bed, in the sea. And what happens then? I don’t speak to anyone on a regular enough basis for anyone to know something’s happened to me for a few weeks. The thought of being a decomposing body for a couple weeks before someone claims me used to scare me a bit but it doens’t much anymore. What does bother me and part of the reason I’m writing this is so that if ever this were to come to pass that I can somehow put the people who love me at peace, as much as possible, with my passing.
I recognize that most countries will not simply allow some foreign body to stay within their morgue indefinitely and I also recognize that likely my family would not be ok with just leaving my body either. Funerals are about closure and not having a body makes that very difficult. So, while I recognize this can’t be considered an official Last Will and Testament, I hope at least on an emotional level it will be seen as such. Not because I plan on dying or want to, but because I see no harm in letting others know what my wishes are.
I don’t know what options anyone will have in terms of retrieving my body or anything of the sort, but know that I don’t care what happens with it. I would rather it be used for medical purposes, if that’s possible, but whether it is brought to Canada, Haiti, the US, Egypt, or just left in whatever place I happen to lose my life, makes no difference to me. But if something needs to be done, then I would prefer that it occur with the least expense possible. I see no logic in paying for death when we’ve already all paid so much for life. So, my wishes are simple, do nothing or do what’s least costly if something needs to be done.
If there is one, and I can’t imagine it would be an easy thing to organize, and it’s certainly not necessary, but if others feel it’s what they want, then that’s fine, but I would rather a celebration rather than a mourning. I don’t have specific beliefs in death or what happens afterwards but I don’t believe there’s loss or pain once you’re gone. Whether there’s another life or an etheral existence, or the big void, none will be regretted by me nor should it be regretted by anyone else. Know, that no matter what, I lived a beautiful and rich life and I followed my heart, particularly towards the end and I would have died with gratitude and a ton of love in my heart.
Well, that’s an easy one. I own nothing of value. Whatever is left, a snowboard, some photos, etc, well, who cares. What I do have that I see no reason should disappear unless no one wants it, are a couple companies that have some value, and some potential. Those I leave to Amjad. I will be preparing a sort of time capsule in which access to all my accounts, tax information, and administrative data will be made available if I die. Jad, if you read this, you can do whatever you want with it, however if you do take on the clients and projects, I would only ask that 50% of the profits go to my family. I’ll provide the logistics (server access, contact info for the team, ownership and bank account info, etc.) for all of this in the “time capsule”. Believe it or not, I worry about what happens to my clients if anything were to happen to me. Stupid and trivial but ya, I can’t help it. So, even if you don’t take on the clients, obviously I would ask that you inform them of the situation so they can find alternatives.
So, that covers the dirty business. And like I said, this is by no means a post designed to make anyone uncomfortable but it’s one I’ve been wanting to write for a while and I think now’s a good time, particularly since I’m about to do the death road in a few days. I love my life, it hasn’t been easy the past few months and it won’t be for another few at least, till I can get back to the coast and the warmth, and get back to sort of financial stability, but I still appreciate where I am and the choices I’ve made to get here. I’ve been extremely lucky and I’m grateful for the opportunities, sights and experiences I’ve had not just throughout my life but particularly in the past year and a half and I have no desire to stop but if anything does happen, I think I’m also more ready than I’ve ever been to face that. And of course lastly, I just want to say at least this one more time, that to all of you who have loved me, and to all the people I love, and I think you know because that’s not something I’ve ever hidden, you have been and always will be at the core of who I am and the single most beautiful thing in my life. From my parents and sister, to the friends I’ve shared so many parts of my life and my time with, to the partners I’ve had who have taught me so much, I am forever in your debt for filling me so generously with your light and laughs, tears and feelings. I could not have asked for better people to cross the path of my life and that will never change or be lost on me.
I’ll leave you with one last thing, play the song at the top of the post, and these words from the refrain have struck a particular chord. They’re beautiful to me.
I put one foot in front of the other one, oh oh oh
I don’t need a new love or a new life just a better place to die
You can read the full lyrics here.