I am dying
I am dying, and so are you.
There are online calculators that can “predict” how long you have to live. This may sound morbid, but very few things can motivate us and give us the courage to live authentically like the knowledge that it will all end very soon.
One of those calculators predicts that I have 16,005 days to live.
That's ONLY 16,005 days!
But I am not afraid of dying ... I am afraid of not having lived.
What will I do with this one wild, precious life of mine?
What will you do?
In Ancient Rome, there was a practice of remembering one’s mortality, "memento mori" (i.e. remember death) as a way of staying (or becoming) humble, courageous, and honest. This practice was resurrected during the Middle Ages about the same time when the troubadours introduced the idea of having the courage to love romantically (personal satisfaction), not just practically (societal requirement).
Likewise, the famed Japanese warriors, the Samurai, would start their day remembering that they might die that very day.
A keen awareness of our mortality, not in a morbid, scary, sad way kind of way, but in the way of reality, allows several things to happen:
1) We cut the bullshit and tell how we truly feel.
2) We stop worrying what others will think or do, or want us to think or do; instead, we focus on the ones who know everything about us and still love us, unconditionally. There are few of those, at least in my life, but you have no idea how much I feel their love. It's truly true.
3) We find clarity about what really matters. Hint: this probably isn't the same thing you valued as a teenager, or even last year, or what your parents value. Facing your mortality means you are willing to follow your heart, not your calculating, safety pursuing mind.
4) We find the courage to do what is hard, to #OwnIt, and to be idealistic. Did you know that being "realistic" is just another term for being scared to dream, to dare, and to risk? Steve Jobs was everything but realistic when he left college and started Apple. Sure, you can be realistic and safe, but that's contrary to being courageous. Without courage, we would have never landed on the moon, won WWII, learned to fly, designed internet, or discovered cures for illnesses. Facing your death, your own mortality, gives you a new, different kind of courage.
5) We realize that life isn't about us or our ego, about merely surviving or procreating or proving a point to someone, but about discovering and giving of your gifts to the world that you are living in right now ... it’s about following our own bliss. Again, our mortality reminds us of the fragility of our life; life isn't about the plans that we *think* will happen someday, or societal structures we so tidily follow, but about this moment in time, this glorious moment of aliveness. Stop letting your stubborn ego that always thinks of the past or the future rob you of this precious moment for it might be your last.
I've been fortunate to have had a friend who'd go sit with the homeless and talk about their life, and another who was a Catholic priest and blessed the sinners (and saints) of all kinds, and another who was willing to stand up to patriarchy and bigotry even if that meant losing it all, and another one who was willing to love even when it was not popular and stick by his person even when everyone around them rejected them ... these are the heroes. We don't hear about them every day, but they're the ones who make our human race extraordinary; they're the ones who were keenly aware of their mortality and instead of being afraid, of dying OR of living, they lived authentically and boldly, they knew their life counted for so much more than earth’s 16,000 days, leaving a much bigger, much more profound trace than many of their counterparts who simply, well, existed.
If you can take something from this post, it would be this: don't just go through your life, or this year, or today, living according to society's rules, barely existing, fitting the mold ... you're meant to shine and thrive. You will die, today or 100 years from now (and I hope it's 100 years from now), but don't die with the music still in you. That would be a waste of an extraordinary life!
Love and light,