Packing for Death

Dear reader: This post is an excerpt from Painless Poker. It comes at the end of the final memoir chapter.


When I am flying in the morning, I pack the night before. It’s a trick I learned from Kay the business traveler.

“If I’m already packed when I wake up,” she said, “then I have nothing to do but shower and eat and get to the airport, the same as if I was on vacation.”

Now I’m a huge fan of packing the night before. And that’s what I’m doing with my meditations and contemplations. I’m packing for death the night before, so that I’ll be ready to go when it’s time to go, whenever that is, and I can play my banjo right up until it’s time to get in the cab.

One thing I had to do, to really be ready to die on short notice, was empty my bucket list. And I did. My bucket list is now empty. But not because I did the things on the list. Instead, I erased the list, item by item, while sitting on my bench. It took a few years. And now there’s no list. If I were to find out today that I had one month to live, or one hour, I would feel no urgency. There’s nothing I long to see. No conversations I need to have. No projects I need to finish. Basically, there’s nothing I want to do before I die.

Except for one thing. Before my flame goes out, I would love to be interviewed by Stephen Colbert. So if any of you know Stephen, would you please pass along my final wish to him? That’d be great. Thanks.


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