The kind of life that living like you will die tomorrow brings
My hairdresser spotted it. She always does. She’s more like a scalp savant than a hairdresser.
“Brooke, have you experienced a traumatic event recently, say, perhaps a month ago?”
I cast my mind back. Kate can read my head as a gypsy reads a crystal ball so I knew that there had to be some truth to her suggestion. “Actually yes,” I said, after ruminating on recent events.
“That was when I almost died in Bali”.
“Well that would explain it,” she declared, before promptly resuming her attempt to beautify me.
A month earlier, I had in fact, almost died in Bali.
What was even stranger was that only a day before the ‘traumatic’ event that had left me with a ‘shocked’ scalp, I had predicted it.
I was at the end of seven days in a deliciously decadent Babylonian resort in the jungle of Ubud in Bali, when I felt the urge to immortalise my little home with a short film.
I had spent a small fortune on the week ensconced in what can only be described as a private jungle paradise, surrounded by cool mossy stone, dragonflies and swallows. I had spent the day sunbathing nude in the womb-like warmth of the jungle and then sipping beer in a jade coloured stone bath shrouded in incense and warm bubbles.
Euphoria is not a word that does the day justice.
Before sliding into said bath, I had taken a few moments to film my surrounds. Monkeys exploded from the jungle’s membrane like solar flares. Swallows languidly dipped in the azure sky as though sinking through cream. In the last few stills of my film I had inserted the text: “I will die poor and happy”.
I very nearly did.
One day later I had a very bad case of food poisoning which left me unconscious in a palpitating puddle on a restaurant floor. After a swirling trip of semi-conscious panic to emergency, I revived, thereafter recovered fully and hence sit here happily sipping on hot coffee and retelling the anecdote with the comfort of time and reclined retrospect.
I’d like to come back to my prediction.
I will die poor but happy.
I don’t wish to dwell on the morbid with the ‘die’ bit but the sentiment of living like I would die tomorrow has always driven me.
I know that it sounds terribly short sighted and perhaps even ridiculously self-indulgent, but it is as genetic to me as my dimples. It’s part of my design.
When toddlers learn to delay self-gratification by waiting for dessert after eating all of their dinner it’s seen as a crucial stage in their development. It’s an AHA moment. It’s growing up.
Well, this bit is missing in me.
Instead, it has been replaced with the ‘I’ll regret it if I don’t’, ‘I can save money as soon as I get back’, ‘life is short’ gene.
But where has this got me?
What is life like when you live as though you will imminently die?
Living as though you would die tomorrow has not brought me great wealth. It hasn’t brought me fast cars and sprawling mansions. It hasn’t brought me diamonds and leather couches. But I’ll tell you what the thought of death tomorrow has brought me.
Sparkly, exhilarating, soul-drenching, on the precipice, full fat, saturated… life.
‘I could die tomorrow’ has taken me to many places.
It took me to Africa. On my own. It sat on my shoulder and said ‘sure it’s dangerous Brooke, sure it will cost a lot Brooke but Brooke, its Africa and you know what? You could die tomorrow’.
I remember the first moment that I sniffed the Serengeti from the open-roofed jeep I was travelling in and I saw a cheetah in a tree. A cheetah in a tree. Just taking an afternoon nap. And there I was. Somehow I had found myself right in that spot. I had bought the tickets, spent the money and suffered the yellow fever jabs. I had ridden the self-propelling waves of ‘I could die tomorrow’ and there I was in the Serengeti checking out a cheetah.
‘I could die tomorrow’ flirted with me shamefully in Tibet at the base of the Potala Palace.
I was out of breath. The thin air had seen me sucking on oxygen canisters all day and the stairs of the Buddhist palace, spiritual home of the Dalai Lama, rose above me, beckoning. They seemed insurmountable. I took a deep breath of ‘die tomorrow’ and I ascended.
Inside, I experienced the closest I ever have to transcendence. A large gilded Buddha lit a room of gold and jewels; of ancient Tibetan prayer and of peace. I cried. Such was the overwhelming sense of being in a place beyond Earthly grip.
I remember before that trip that I wasn’t too sure if I should go, I thought that I had better start saving for more important things. As I stood there in the singularly most beautiful temple that I believe humans have built, I thought, what exactly is ‘a more important’ thing? More important than this moment? More important than today? Because we all know what could happen tomorrow.
‘I could die tomorrow’ caressed me appreciatively as I sat sipping Prosecco under Tuscan moonbeams in a wine-barrelled hot tub. I had booked a week in a cooking school in the Tuscan countryside. It was expensive. To tell you the honest truth, it was so expensive that I probably could have bought a car. But I didn’t. I bought a flight to Italy.
And instead of investing in ‘tomorrow’ I immersed myself in one of the most decadently sensual weeks of my life with Tuscan food, laughter and wine-barrelled hot tubs. Aaaaah hot tubs…
‘I could die tomorrow’ has also brought me here. To this little spot on the Brisbane river. I could have chosen a cheaper apartment to rent. A MUCH cheaper apartment. But I didn’t. ‘I could die tomorrow’ sat in his prominent position inside my heart and told me quite firmly that a romantic needs to be surrounded by beauty. That days need to begin with melon sunrises over molten water. Sunsets need to be enjoyed with wine, majestic gold-tipped trees and the comfort of my over-priced abode.
I don’t wish to die early and my heart aches for those who don’t have the luxury of ‘imagining’ this scenario. But everyone has a voice that guides their internal philosophies don’t they?
The biggest flaw in the ‘die tomorrow’ philosophy is actually living a long and healthy life. When I’ve spent all of my money on Tuscan hot tubs and African safaris and I’ve still got a good thirty years ahead of me I may pause and reflect on my relationship with Mr ‘die tomorrow’.
Something tells me that I won’t regret it though. Something tells me that I’ll find a way; that I’ll be buoyed by my life lived.
Something tells me that if I sat staring at my last five dollars I’d buy a drink for ‘I could die tomorrow’ and congratulate him for suggesting that I eat dessert first.
Because when I wrote on my little jungle film that I would die poor and happy…
I meant it.