Too often, people avoid talking about death but it does bring a lot of insights about living your life.
Death is something most people fear. It is a taboo subject to talk about too. It means the end of life, the cessation of everything you love and love doing. It means everything else is in vain and the world carries on without you.
Imagine if there is no death. Life would just be like the endless sea with no end in sight. There is no need for reflection, for adjustments to our errors done as there is always tomorrow. We would just float along like driftwood.
Death however visits us, anytime and anywhere. It is like a thief in the night that may suddenly sneak up on you and take you along with him. Or it may leave you in a state of limbo, slowing consuming you by the minute.
The cycle of life completes without you even realizing it unless you contemplate death more regularly. It is not a bad thing to do. Rather than regard it as negative thought, it actually evokes critical thinking, sharp emotions and necessary behavior to put our lives on track. Instead of being swept along by personal ambitions, world events and individual tragedies, when you give death a thought, you may just live each day more aligned with the values that you view as important.
It is paramount to treasure time. Not engage in idle gossip, vengeance and ill thoughts for you would never be able to turn back the hands of time once they are gone. That is why the saying “Youth is wasted on the young”. Not many have attained the wisdom that may come with age but if they do, they would certainly live a much more fulfilling life.
The prospect of death tells us clearly that life is finite. It is impermanent and unpredictable. Since the Grim reaper is not predictable, the only way to beat it is to live life to the fullest so that when it comes, you could say, “Hey, take me . I am ready”.
In Shakespeare’s words, ‘Death would have lost thy sting’ . It gives urgency to us to live meaningfully. That begs the question ‘what and how to live meaningfully. ‘
By my own understanding It would mean , live each day with joy and zest, do your work with pride and accomplishment. It means love those whom your cherish and spend time with them while it lasts. It means leaving for others the lessons you have learnt so that they can go on and fulfill their own lives and purposes. It means the practice of positivity to the end and leaving the world a better place.
Death teaches you to be brave. It is because of fear that many people do not venture outside their safety zone- no sports, no travel , no risks taking. Common reports of lives being taken unexpectedly happen all the time-someone could choke on his food, another fell on the pavement, hit his head and passed on, somebody dies from flu or even an insect bite. So it would behoove yourself to have some courage to live and play. Everything has risks. Do not live with regrets.
When I looked around me and I see old people such as those on life support or wheel chair bound, I would wish that they had lived their lives with no regrets and I am sure some did. The best opportunity would be to ask them ‘what would you have done differently before this’ but it may sound impertinent. I believe that they had fulfill their lives in their own ways.
Death makes us ponder what is important. Life is impermanent but if few people contemplate about it , it is often because they do not think that it would happen to them; not yet at least not so soon.
On the New York Times National Best selling list for more than four years, the book ‘Tuesdays with Morrie’ was a fantastic read. The best issues about death were discussed between a dying professor and the author, his former student and they were well documented. It is a true story based on Mitch Albom’s 14 visits to his own Sociology professor, Morrie Schwartz who was dying from ALS, Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. They met on every Tuesday where Mitch received a lot of wisdom and insights from his former professor.
Here are some of the many worthy quotes that were life changing from his Tuesdays’ encounters until his professor’s passing.
- “Don’t cling to things because everything is impermanent.”
Though this is a truism, many of us hold on to our possessions till our last breath. As we grew older, some may feel insecure if they are unable to relinquish them and this causes unnecessary anxiety and pain. There should be a gradual letting go of your attachments as this leads to an increasing sense of freedom.
- “The truth is, once you learn how to die, you learn how to live.”
Death is inevitable. At the end of your life, you could look back with satisfaction or feel nothing. Knowing that the latter is not what you want, you would then live each day with more intention, fervor and grit so as to achieve your full potential. Do not live life waiting for the weekend or you have wasted it. “An unexamined life is not worth living” — Socrates.
- “Accept who you are; and revel in it.”
You have to be authentic. Trying to be like someone else or live to other’s expectations is foolish. Release your own genius so that in the natural scheme of things, you will be able to achieve happiness your own way.
- “Death ends a life, not a relationship.”
The professor places much importance on relationships and love and these were what sustained him and ultimately gave the most meaning. Make time for your loved ones now and the memories would forever be etched in your minds. He said, “ The most important thing in life is to learn how to give out love and to let it come in.” You would live on in the hearts and minds of all those that you have touched though physically you are no longer there.
- “It is not just other people we need to forgive. We need to forgive ourselves. For all the things we didn’t do. All the things we should have done.
At the end, you should not be afflicted with remorse and regretfulness. Forgiving is a great strength that puts all ill feelings at rest. The past is no longer important. It is a negative emotion that serves no purpose other than annoying yourself. Forgive and be free.
Most important, thinking about Death should impart lessons about living. One should not die in vain or live in vain for that matter. View death from a positive perspective and you will live differently.