ASK KATE #4: How did you come up with the concept 'You might die tomorrow?'


Dear Ryan,

I'll never forget it. The date was July 11, 2015. I was sitting in a café in Austin, and BANG! It hit me like a bolt of lightning.

Prior to that day, I had been dealing with some very real and disruptive fears of dying. It was taking over my life: I'd think about dying as I crossed every intersection, I'd imagine (kind of like a daymare) that I got a call that my mom had died or that my then-husband wouldn't be coming home, and I'd spend inordinate quantities of time thinking about whether anyone would find out if I died or show up to my memorial. It was affecting my sleep, my mood, and causing a lot of stress. In short: it f*cking sucked. 

That day in the café, I had this epic realization: I have absolutely no control over when or how I die, but I have complete control of how I live until that moment comes. 

When that lightbulb went off for me -- when I finally embraced the aspect of mortality that sets you free -- my entire life changed for the better. I have never lived more vibrantly. I don't know that I could say it better than Steve Jobs: 

“Remembering that I’ll be dead soon is the most important tool I’ve ever encountered to help me make the big choices in life. Because almost everything — all external expectations, all pride, all fear of embarrassment or failure — these things just fall away in the face of death, leaving only what is truly important. Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose. You are already naked. There is no reason not to follow your heart.”

— Steve Jobs

See, life is hard. And can seem absurdly complex. But when you remember you're going to die and you have no idea when, life becomes simple. You'll start to live more in the present moment. You'll hesitate less to tell people you love them. You'll realize that enjoying yourself is as good a life's purpose as any. I'm pretty certain you'll notice more often how damn beautiful the sky can be. 

So, the realization that I could die tomorrow, or next week, or in five or fifty years has made me a more joyful and exuberant person, and I write on this website, print stickers, and work on books to share it with you, my friend, in hopes you can live like you might die tomorrow, too. 

kate the great