I had a moment there when I was clear. Like, really, really clear. I saw this vision. I had a TV show. I was working with all these creative crazies. People who were tripped out and weird and excited and up for things. They had funny ideas and skills and know how. Their Google wizardry made me blush. They were graduates of YouTube University. They were young and vibrant and making amazing, amazing shows. I had it there for that moment.
And then things got foggy.
The Ephemerality of Clarity
Jenny was assaulted on a train. By teenage girls. Her iPhone stolen, her face badly injured. I had never seen someone so beaten. Our confidence in humanity shook. It was shaking indeed.
It led to thoughts. What are we doing. What is she doing. What am I doing. Why? The clarity that had seemed so available for the taking seemed to recede.
And the darnedest thing happened, as my grandmother used to say. I realized that this is it for me. I have no interest in having kids. I have no interest in traveling. I have no interest in new clubs, hobbies, or spiritual pursuits. For better or worse, I feel like I got what I wanted out of life in each of these areas.
And with the clarity of the show receding, I realized that the only desire I had left–other than the show–was to die.
This came as quite a surprise to me.
Death Becomes Me
In 1999, 2007, and 2008, I jumped off 3 consecutive cliffs into the unknown, each time betting everything that what I thought was true was true. Each time it revealed itself to be true and my life became more dazzling.
I thought this would go on forever, the universe being a fractal and all.
The Oroboric Link Between Clarity and Death
Based on my understanding of Earth and physical reality and why we come to this life, there are just two basic Yin-Yang forces. One way to describe these forces is the desire to separate from all and the desire to return to all. If this is really all there is, then how are we to live? That was the question that propelled me off of each successive cliff. I would call it Applied Philosophy or metaheuristics.
As I have explored this question, the only thing I’ve figured out is that in order to return, we must extinguish desire after desire. Just leap into the unknown again and again, following our excitement wherever it leads. Theoretically, one day it will run out and we will return: choose to die, become enlightened, or transcend. Sometimes I’m not sure there’s a huge difference between the three.
So I’ve spent the past 14 years doing that to the best of my ability and I just have this one desire left. To make a truly great show which inspires those who have inspired me and to share my experience with the cosmos. This one little thing keeping me clinging to life. When it went away momentarily, I literally began spasming, my breathing became heavy, and I felt death approaching. It was very sad but at the same time I felt ready. I did what I came to do and I was satisfied with my life as I had lived it.
In classic Otis style, this feeling quickly passed and a new surge of energy around the show came roaring back. New ideas, new excitement, new determination and passion and focus.
But it made me understand one of my favorite quotes just a bit better:
Each one of my books has killed me a little more -Norman Mailer
Tread Slowly Young Jedi
It makes me feel, which Jenny is constantly trying to instill in me anyway, that there’s really no hurry. You’re just racing toward the grave, either from old age or extinguished desires. From now on I intend to walk at a Butoh pace toward my desires. Very calmly, very patiently, very aware. I intend to smell all the flowers, or at least as many as I can without having my heart break open completely. It becomes clear as I see this image that my march is not toward fame or fortune or creative expression but toward the executioner’s blade. I see why things can be so poignant. It is so poignant.
I also see why people stay so busy, stay so confused, use so many substances. This life is so ephemeral. To walk through it with eyes open, willing to see what it really is, to have one foot here and one foot beyond the veil, well I think that’s about as much of a master class as one could ask for.