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10 THINGS TO DO BEFORE U DIE

They say you should try everything at least once, but I draw the line at heroin and homoeroticism. Just not my cup of tea. But if you want to live the proverbial full life, do as many of the following ten things as you can before your time's up.
 
1. Live Abroad - preferably where they speak a language other than your native tongue.
This will do two things.
 
First, as author and philosopher Susan Neiman notes, living in another country will make you more mature. As she says, "The best way to understand your own culture is to see it from the outside. Otherwise you simply take issues for granted." Like toilets that flush, and running water and reliable electricity. It was in Brazil I learned that unlike in America Brazilians use the same bath towel for the whole week. And it's actually quite sanitary. You really save on laundry, not to be dismissed in these dry times in which we live. It was in the West Indies that having nothing else to do but study I learned to spend all day at the beach. Which was rather harsh on my epidermis but it sure beat shopping at the mall. Because there was no mall.
 
Be in your new country for at least 6 months if you can, and make like a local. Blend in. That means no binoculars and Bermuda shorts.
 
Second, if said foreign land speaks a language that you must learn, you'll garner all the benefits of becoming bilingual. It will raise your IQ and attract members of the opposite sex, who will be so charmed by your accent and the inevitable grammar errors you will make.
 
Note: the best way of learning another tongue is NOT Rosetta Stone (which I have tried and failed at miserably - though it could have been because German is nearly impossible for a foreigner to learn! And I am not alone. Voltaire tried to learn this guttural language and gave it up after nearly choking). The best way to become fluent is by dating someone. They don't call it the "language" of love for nothing.

And bring the kids, because research tells us that children exposed to multiple languages may be better natural communicators.
 
2. Earn a Higher Degree - but only if you don't have to take out student loans.
You may not even practice said profession. I went to medical school and only practiced for a year. I didn't enjoy or agree with the profession, and I had the freedom to leave because I was not dependent on work as a doctor to pay back $200,000 in loans. Because I didn't have to take out loans. You rock, Dad!
 
A higher degree will do a lot for your mental discipline and focus. It will also assure you become an expert in whatever field interests you, which is fun to flaunt at cocktail parties. And the sacrifices a graduate student makes will change your life pervasively. My life was a dead end before med school. A job that had no future, a relationship that was failing. After it was still a dead end (no work worth talking about), but I rid myself of several bad habits, learned to cook and had a wealth of knowledge to draw upon in writing. Which takes us to number 3. Oh, and if you can't afford graduate school, take an online course. They're often free. Or just become an A student in the school of life. Not always easy, this.
 
3. Keep a Journal
A page a day, or 1000-words three times a week. Something like that. Your feelings, or simply a list of things to do. It doesn't matter. Express your emotions! Keeping a journal has many practical benefits. A food journal will guide your weight loss efforts, a break-up journal will ease the pain of the lover's loss. And it may turn into a memoir or other protracted effort. Who knows, you could be the next best thing. We all start somewhere, like J.K. Rowling, am I right???
 
4. Run a Race.
Any distance. Any discipline. Train for a 40-yard dash. An ocean swim. A century bike ride. Run a marathon. If you’ve already done that, do a 100-mile run, which they say now that marathons have become so common is the “new” endurance effort worth bragging about. But we’re not in this for the bragging rights are we? Training for an event will increase your fitness, the event itself is usually pretty fun, and the habit of exercising regularly will likely continue long after you cross the finish line.
 
5. Get a Roommate.
Can be anyone. Classmate. Sibling. Lover. Best friend. Sharing a room teaches you to be considerate faster than memorizing the Ten Commandments can. You’ll make a list of all the things your roomie does to annoy you and find they’ve made the same list about you. From leaving the toilet seat up first thing in the morning to snoring at night to all else that falls in between. It helps to step outside yourself and look at yourself objectively - and having someone do this for you sure can expedite the process of self-reflection. (Oh and while you're at it, live alone for at least a year. You need to be okay on your own!)
 
6. Take Drugs.
I mean it. But don’t just sit in front of the TV and veg out on sitcom TV. Take a psychedelic, preferably LSD, maybe touchy-feely ecstasy, or my favorite, mushrooms (fresh, if you can find them, though I only found them once – and not from your backyard, since these varieties may be poisonous). Choose a safe place and maybe a trusted friend, and trip out. Taking a drug will do much to open previously unexplored corridors of your mind which, once opened, you can always access. But remember quit while you’re ahead and a little goes a long way and all the other clich├ęs that have arisen to avoid addiction.
 
7. Serve.
Get a job in the service industry. For many this will be in a restaurant, waiting tables or bussing or bartending. or perhaps the most boring of all, hosting. It’ll teach you to leave your ego at home where it belongs. Don’t do it too long – 2 years is probably one too many – or you’ll be left with an inferiority complex that won’t easily go away.
 
8. Lie Quietly.
Choose a place in a quiet room all by yourself, close your eyes and be alone with your thoughts. Do this as often and as long as you can. And as you achieve a profound sense of inner calm (which really is your true nature) you’ll begin to wonder at the futility of all human endeavor. Yes you’ll have your race medal, and memories of your time abroad, as well as a few extra ways of telling someone you love him or her, and you may have a higher degree and the self-respect that comes with it, and the humility the comes from living with someone who puts your flaws on display. BUT despite all the striving, all the doing, all the achieving, you’ll take a deep breath and say inwardly, is any of that really me? And can anything take the place of this perfect calm?
 
Wherever you go, there you are. Live anywhere and close your eyes and you are once again alone with yourself. I am reminded of my favorite quote, which I always screw up but which reads somewhat as follows: "Everyone places such importance on experiences. What about the experiencer?"
 
In the quiet of reflection, when all else subsides except the consciousness that alone is, you will see that all that you’ve accomplished, though time-consuming and fun, hasn’t changed the real you, the awareness that witnesses all that you do and remains unchanged through life’s thick and thin. You may wonder why you’ve done numbers 1 to 7 if they haven’t changed you? Why didn’t you just skip to 8 and stay there? This is the beginning of wisdom. But the truth is we all must do something with our time.
 
If all else fails, or if you’re really worldly and want the quick course to fame or notoriety,
 
9. Commit a Crime.
Sadly, this is the quickest way to celebrity. Just ask that latest in a slew of authors who have broken the law only to write a best-selling book reliving it. Author and lawyer Jennifer Ridha smuggled prescription medication to Cameron Douglas (son of the superstar Michael) while he was serving time and she was representing him. He shared his pills with fellow inmates ,one of whom was a government informant, and just like that Ridha goes from attorney to defendant, not before chronicling her path in her memoir Criminal That I Am. Typical, maybe. Entertaining, at least as excerpted in Psychology Today, most certainly.
 
And if you follow in her footsteps, and have followed my suggestion and done 1 through 7 above, after you commit said crime, when the feds knock at your door, followed by calls for news appearances and book deals, you’ll already have your memoir waiting.
 
Or you can take my advice and stay at 8. Eight is the one that counts. Through 8 you’ll access your eternal nature, which is fitting since 8 on its side is infinity, which is what you are.
 
Now you may think that recommending to you things that I either do or have done is a bit vainglorious, but recommending anything else would be sheer hypocrisy, would it not? After all, would you really trust someone who suggested you try X when they themselves prefer Y? I don't think so.
 
The above recs are tried and true. Not simply latest research, but tested in the lab of life. Besides, there are many things I have done that don't make this list, like having sex with strippers, a fact which I'm always reminded of whenever I get too much sun.
Which brings us to number 10.
 
 
10. Stick to the Simple Pleasures.
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