(Some people never learn. My new hobby is submitting to the New Yorker’s Shouts and Murmurs. The following piece was promptly rejected so I’m posting it here. Stay tuned for future rejected “humor.”)
I. Go to your favorite social media site. Not the one that limits the number of words you can use. Go to the site where you can use all the words. Find a topic that interests you. Write a long heartfelt reply to a post, a reply that will save humanity. Delete it without posting because nothing you say matters, and no one can hear you when you’re dead.
II. At the end of yoga class when everyone is lying down in shavasana and the teacher announces you are all welcome to stay there as long as you’d like, stay there as long as you can. How long? Start with a few minutes a day and work up to forever.
III. Shhhhh. Stay silent at social events and all other opportunities. Do not speak except to avoid “the drama.” Passively take in what others say.. Make only the slightest nods and gestures, and these only so the person speaking will feel heard and not say, “Dude, are you even listening?” Do not display emotion. Be like Spock. You are a tree or better a stone, a slab that people would stare into at a graveyard barely taking in the letters etched in the middle as they ramble to their dear departed.
IV. Declutter: Your stuff is not coming with you. Burn it, bury it, throw it away, or give it to someone who will use or enjoy it. Note: The person who will enjoy it is NOT your neighbor, Shirley. She is a hoarder! Leaving it for her is just cruel. Just put it in the dumpster and maybe on the way, knock on Shirley’s door and ask if she has anything you can take for her.
V. Move into a small modest dwelling, preferably made of wood or something biodegradable. Do not furnish: Okay, you can get one IKEA cube – no hacks, unless you put fancy boxes in so it looks like above-ground vaults. Sleep on a futon mattress close to the ground. No pillows! Maybe a little pillow that raises your head at a slight angle as it would in an open casket burial, but only if you are into that sort of thing.
VI. Live as simply as you can. Eat and drink only enough to survive. No processed foods — and then cut back until you note a look of terror in the eyes of your co-workers. Avoid alcohol but most especially avoid frivolous alcoholic drinks with double-entendre names and frilly umbrellas. There are no “wet pussy shots” on the other side!
VII. Try turning the other cheek. Not in a sectarian way, but because when have you seen a corpse throw a punch? Don’t just avoid physical confrontation, avoid all confrontation and conflict. You really don’t have to yell at the asshole who is shaking a fist at you for stopping short, so you wouldn’t hit the meth head in the wheelchair pushing a shopping cart followed by a dog on a rope. You are all meat puppets who will be desiccated bodies soon enough including the dog. Note: Do not remind the asshole of this or you will be a desiccated body sooner. Besides, God spelled backwards is dog, and you never know, so good on you for not running over a possible deity! Also you’re the one with the broken tail light. And why do you still even own a car?
VIII. Move again to an even more modest dwelling or possibly, wander to practice for when your ashes are scattered if that’s your wish. Leave no forwarding address. Do this regardless of whether or not the asshole whose car you bumped is still stalking you. Give your cash away. Cut up your credit cards. Take only what is offered and never ask for anything because the dead ask for nothing.
IX. Make a written account of all the motherfuckers who have screwed you over and you want to tell off. Include everyone from the random lady who wouldn’t move her bag and let you sit on the A train that time you were really tired, to your siblings, exes, and friends. Burn the list without confronting anyone. Be content in the knowledge that they, like you, are going to die. Really, is there anything you have to say that’s more of a zinger than living under the wrath of a capricious God who could strike anyone down at any moment? Dying is easier when you simply no longer give a fuck, which is the point of these exercises. Cultivating not caring is the best preparation for a peaceful eternal rest. If you’re still not over your rage at how you were betrayed, abused, lied to, disrespected, and definitely not mom’s favorite, try ranting in front of a mirror. Don’t you look tough! That was sarcasm. You look like a crazy person. Throw some cold water on your face, shut up about everything forever, and move on.
X. Now that you have cultivated the nonchalance of a cadaver, turn off the lights (if you still have electricity) and lie down on your futon or directly on the ground. Rest your hands over your chest, take a deep breath like it was your last, and have a nice nap. If you’re lucky, you won’t ever have to get up!