Staring death in the face
There is no subject that people want to avoid talking about more than death. But death, unlike some problems, isn’t going anywhere. So here we are, and we are going to talk about it.
You will die one day. It’s a fact and you know it but for some reason, you don’t KNOW it. Somehow you will be different, somehow you will be the one that survives. Even if you don’t consciously believe that, unconsciously you definitely do. I’m pretty sure I do too, deep down. If we didn’t, how would we really cope? That question that constantly hovers around just out of our line of vision, would be painted across our mind in huge neon letters. You know the one…WHAT IS THE POINT?
What is the point of doing anything if one day it will all just end anyway? In reality, the idea that something is only really worth it if it lasts, is a man-made concept. Is a flower any less beautiful because it will die in a few weeks? Is a failed relationship a complete waste of time because it didn’t last forever? Surely something needs to be permanent to be worth it. We tend to do this a lot. We take something we don’t understand and we try and fit it into a box that does make sense. As humans, we see things in a very certain way. Everything has a beginning and an end. We think and think and try to understand what might happen to us. Is there a Heaven? Is there a second life? Or is there just…nothing? The truth it that the human mind can't even begin to comprehend what is out there, and there is no real limit to what it could be. Which is in equal parts, both terrifying and exciting.
To the world, we are tiny and insignificant and this is also difficult to comprehend. We are desperate to be remembered, to make a real impact on the world before we go. Well, I’m not going to lie, we can’t all be Elvis, or Mother Teresa, or someone who takes the whole world by storm. We can’t all cure cancer, solve world hunger or run a country. However in many ways we are all, at all times, making a very significant and long lasting impact on the world and the people in it. Everything we say and do, every attitude we pass onto others, every moral we instil in someone or life lesson we pass along, every kind or nasty word that helps shape someone’s character, every decision we make or don’t make, every seed we plant, every ripple we cause goes on to cause other ripples, becoming a never ending cause and effect that lasts for eternity. And in that way, you are here to stay. Both dead but alive. Parts of you existing for many, many years after your body is gone. And what about your body? Eventually it will become part of the earth again, helping life regrow again and again and again.
I am very aware that everything I have written here has been with the purpose of making you feel better about the scariest subject there is. I’m trying to rescue you from the unparalleled terror that this one thing causes. Now I need to stop, because when it comes down to it, maybe you shouldn’t be rescued. Maybe you should be given the chance to sit with your feelings, to face death head on, staring it right in the face and acknowledging just how terrified of it you are. It’s not irrational or ridiculous and I don’t want to be flippant about it.
Death grows like a monster in your mind, biggest in the middle of the night when you feel the most vulnerable and alone. Take it out of that environment and right into the light, expose it and study it.
It’s not going to go away and you are never going to truly have the answers you want, but it doesn’t have to control you or overshadow your life. It doesn’t have to stop you taking risks, learning new things or pushing yourself to really feel alive.
Live the life you want. Do the things you want to do. Don’t bother with pointless regrets. Don’t live in the past or the future, and keep focusing on today. Death is the very last thing you ever need to do, and there is so much else you can do and enjoy before that. When death comes to you, I hope you are at peace with the life you lived.
To learn to live well, is to learn to die well.