This summer I saw Howard Stern’s new book, Howard Stern Comes Again, on my mother-in-law’s table in the Hamptons. It was a nice day out and everyone was by the pool. I never read much mind-mush, and nearly always surround myself with philosophy and psychology and business and marketing and self-help books and shit like that, so when I saw Howard Stern’s book all I thought was: I’m not reading this shit. I don’t have time for mind-mush. But I picked it up anyway and read something that completely changed the way I feel about death. Death has recently been an insane fear of mine, and although what I read wasn’t a “how to get over fear of death” book, it totally changed the way I live my life. It all started with The Big Lebowski. The message came from The Dude…
How to Get Over the Fear of Death, Inspired by The Dude:
It was an interview with Jeff Bridges, you know, The Dude. As I was reading the interview I couldn’t help to think that this guy sounds like such a goddamn stoner how in the world was he able to put a career together? I mean, I know The Dude is a great actor, but still he’s a fuckin burnout. But that’s not the point. The point is he said somethin about death that fucked me up in the head. I’ll tell you what he said in a minute, but what he hinted at was the secret to overcoming fear of death anxiety starts with not letting it interfere with living. He talked about how the fear of commitment is actually the fear of death. But it was my conclusion that without making the commitments he proposed he avoided because of his fear of death, it’s kinda like you’re just waiting around to die. The example he gave was about getting married…
Howard Stern asked Jeff somethin like:
“Why it’d take you so long to get married?”
And Jeff replied with somethin along the lines of, “well, and I don’t know if this holds any water, but life is like a big story and getting married is kind of like one step closer to the end of that story. So my fear of getting married was actually my fear of death.”
A fuckin volcanic explosion of clarity came upon me. Oh shit. That’s why I keep leaving my home to travel the world: cause I don’t wanna commit to any one place.
Then sex. I thought about sex. Maybe that’s why I travel so much so I can sleep with as many girls that don’t speak English and are in their early twenties as possible, cause it keeps me from any sort of real commitment and keeps me feeling young. Commitment makes me feel like I am getting old and if I simply continue dodging life milestones that indicate I’m closer to death, it helps me overcome death anxiety. I put the book down and went for a swim. Then I started thinkin about way more than just travel and sex and my inability to stay in one place or be with one girl…
Overcoming Fear of Death Anxiety Started by Living the Life I Was Avoiding…
I picked up the book again after I dove into the pool and fucked up my shoulder a bit trying to do a decent dive and wandered around my thoughts in my mind. What else has my lingering anxiety of how to get over fear of death interrupted in my day-to-day affairs? It wasn’t just my desire to remain youthful by bangin young chicks and crashin at hostels in South America… It really affected everything in my life; everything that required a commitment, like relationships, apartments, jobs, pets–nearly everything.
Finding a way for how to deal with fear of death kept me from buying a house or even having an apartment in my name. If I did that, I couldn’t pick up and vagabond the world without a care in the world. If there’s nothing at home, there’s nothing to care for, and there’s nothing to lose or remind me that old age is slowly slipping into my youth. That make sense? If I never have a home, I’m still looking for a home, which prolongs the chapter of life where I’m still searching (a more youthful chapter).
My backwards trek to overcoming fear of death anxiety is also for sure why I didn’t want a girlfriend (and especially never floated the idea of getting married). That would mean that my days of fuckin young chicks were over and fuckin young chicks made me feel young and halted my growing old.
It’s why I didn’t want a job and preferred working freelance because if I had to go into work every day, I’d have to find an apartment and couldn’t travel the world and that would mean that chapter of my life was over and if one chapter is over then another chapter will start, and that chapter will be closer to the end of the book.
I Was Terrified of Death, Which Made Life Impossible
Oh shit. The reason I never laid down any roots anywhere is because I’m terrified of death. And because I’m so scared of dying, I’ve lived my whole life escaping commitments that remind me time is passing. And when I do that, I end up lonely and feeling empty inside, which just amplifies that fear of death.
I started thinkin how ironic it was that in my search for how to get over fear of death, I ran away from commitments that woulda given me a sense of life and comfort instead of feeling dead inside. Now that’s not to say I’m not still reading Thich Nhat Hanh books about overcoming fear of death anxiety, cause I am, but definitely now that I’ve realized my fear of commitment is directly correlated with my fear of death, I’ve been able to live a much richer existence. And as someone once said: if you’re too busy living, you won’t have time to be worried about dying. I don’t remember who said that shit, but it was said.
How to Deal with the Fear of Death by Making Life Decisions.
One day I was talkin to my friend Dan at the diner and was like, yo. Being in a relationship is really about running the numbers. There’s good shit to being with someone and good shit about fuckin everyone and being single, but you just gotta run the numbers. Is it over 50% happier being single, or over 50% happier being together with someone?
Yeah it’s fun bangin that chick from Comedy Central with that fat ass and brand-new fake tits, but right after that fleeting moment of accomplishment and her fleeting moment of dismay, when we enter the phase of never acknowledging each other ever again, it becomes lonely as fuck. So where does the happiness scale lean towards? Am I a bit happier NOT doin that? Am I happier being with a companion? Or am I a bit happier continuously fuckin chicks that look perfect but then getting ghosted and ignored and emotionally abused? Which is better?
My conclusion: Companionship, every time.
How to Deal with Fear of Death: My Equation for Embracing Life
Then I started using this equation for EVERY life decision I ran away from since my days as a teenager:
- Am I happier with an apartment, or without one?
- Am I happier with a job, or without one?
- Am I happier with a hometown, or as a roving gypsy?
- Am I happier living closer to my family, or living wherever my heart desires?
Without fail, I was making all the wrong decisions and going towards the answers that left me more empty than full, all because I had a fear of death that I was unable to overcome. Once I began to realize that my fear of death was dictating nearly every decision in my life, especially the decisions that woulda enriched my life, I began to see that if I focused more on watering the plant of living than running away from the tree of death, my anxiety of dying disappeared.
The moral of the story is stop fuckin chicks with fake tits and porn-like asses just for a transient moment of youth, instead, go for longer fulfilling comfort and death anxiety will subside.
Now here’s a story about that chick from Comedy Central.