Self-Care for Future Corpses
By Sallie Tisdale
You’re going to die, so stop being a whiny baby.
You will be shocked by life. It can’t be helped. The shifting face in the mirror is all you need to know. The gratitude journals, the Pilates classes, that colon cleansing—short-term fixes. Eight glasses of water a day? Won’t last. Shuffle your affirmation deck all you want, but it won’t stop the shivers at three a.m.
Instead, sit in silence and face the wall with total courage. Watch. Listen. Hear the theme? The endless noise of self-abnegation and self-defense? Hear that story you can’t stop telling about what you lack, what you are owed, and what you need? Go ahead and write a love letter to yourself. Be your own best friend. Make an investment in you.
Your skin will still sag. Your hearing will fade. And at long last, your body’s sphincters will relax in one big, embarrassing sigh. All those sleep strategies and relaxation exercises? Sorry— they’re gone. Tiny lacunae in your brain will swallow your childhood phone number, your best friend’s birthday, and what you did last summer. What you did today. Your spine will collapse like a tower of pebbles.
Namaste. You’re dead.
Watch from inside yourself, unable to escape. Listen helplessly to the repeating chorus. Wait for the moment when you can witness yourself—that moment when you see yourself arising and abiding for less than no time at all, then falling away into nothing. The wave lifts from the sea, crests, breaks, and disappears back into the water. Nothing is lost. Wait for that moment. Wonder as your self appears and disappears. See the little girl, long gone, raise her head for a moment and wink. See the young woman fade from sight. See yourself going away.
Now you can stop watching. Unclench your fist. Say yes. Pamper yourself—a massage is always nice. Make sleep a priority. Know that your precious, infinitely beloved, and irreplaceable self will dissolve like a sand castle, grain by grain—and what a relief it is to know. You exist in a great space of knowing, filled with the shared ephemerality of all things. You are like a spring the size of the world that begins to unwind, and you smile because you know it’s going to keep unwinding forever.
Lean back, throw your leg over the side of the chair, look around, and say oh. Say yes. Yes. Everything will be all right. It’s going to be all right. You are already completely well.