’1. Stockpile notebooks (and a few pens): Stockpiling food is a fool’s game. The food will mostly spoil. But notebooks will be essential.
2. Learn to frown: Americans spend entirely too much time smiling — particularly when they’re not happy. Once cameras no longer exist, smiling will be unnecessary. Practice frowning now!
3. Listen to children: Children make the best conversation. And they are geniuses at adaptation.
4. Write songs: After civilization goes bye-bye, you won’t be able to download songs by the Beatles or Lady Gaga. To hear music, you will need to write it yourself. So get started.
5. Know thyself: The first couple of years that I went to Indian restaurants, I always ordered curried vegetables. It was the cheapest entrée, and I never had much money. Then one day I noticed that curried vegetables have no taste. For another dollar I could buy aloo matar gobi (literally “potatoes peas cauliflower”), which tastes fabulous. This was a life-reversing moment. A few years later I realized that I don’t like movies. Everyone is supposed to enjoy them, but I don’t. I much prefer theater — even bad theater. I like watching people show off on a stage. This is who I am, I discovered: a movie-hating aloo-matar-gobi lover. That’s when I began to make progress in life.
6. Move beyond self-help: Do self-help books actually help anyone? Some people must benefit — or believe they benefit — from them, or the entire industry would go bankrupt. But I suspect the opposite of self-help would be more effective. I plan to write a book titled Rubbing Salt in Your Wounds. Its premise is simple: identify your greatest fault and make it worse. If you overeat, overeat more. If you’re too stingy, spend even less money. If you’re anxious, make yourself hysterically nervous. Magnify your faults until you see the abyss of self-destruction before you. What then? It’s up to you.
7.Remember the earth: Once a day remember that you live on a globe largely covered with blue water, slowly rotating.
8. Lower your standards: Here is the stupidest thing I ever said: I was talking to my mother-in-law about a relative who was aging and unmarried. “It’s easy to get married,” I blithely opined. “You just have to lower your standards.” Then I remembered I had married her daughter. Nonetheless, my advice is correct. Lower your standards. Once civilization is undone, this will be essential.
9. Listen to quiet radio: Listen to the radio so softly that you can’t hear the words. Pay attention to what the radio might be saying.
10. Observe mice: If your house has mice, study them. Where do they live? When do they emerge? Where do they scamper? What foods do they prefer? After civilization has been demolished, we’ll live much like mice.
11. Start a book garden: Clear a plot of land ten feet by five feet. Bury twelve books upright in the soil, so that only two or three inches of each volume shows. The next time a friend comes to visit, gesture toward your garden and nonchalantly remark, “I’m growing books.”
12. Wash your hands in the air: Normally we wash our hands in water, but there are other options. Washing your hands in the air cleanses your etheric energy field. Go to a remote mountain pass and rub your hands in the breeze.
13. Be a loser: “The first shall be last.” “The meek shall inherit the earth.” These are quotes from Jesus’s Sermon on the Mount, which possibly predicts the world after civilization’s demise. In case Jesus is right, become a loser today.
14. Combine the happiness of honey with the sadness of salt: Follow this recipe: ½ cup clover honey ¼ teaspoon sea salt. Mix together thoroughly. Spread on toast.
15. Find a saint: In his book Be Here Now, Ram Dass studies with yogis in northern India. He then returns to Massachusetts and suddenly perceives that his aunt Sophie is an enlightened being. Look around carefully at your next family reunion or neighborhood block party. Try to find saints.…’
— Sparrow, via The Sun Magazine