Living Borne from the End


Living Borne from the End

“The fear of death follows from the fear of life. A man who lives fully is prepared to die at any time” – Mark Twain

As human beings, we have an unparalleled capacity to conceptualize the world around and within us. But it comes at a high cost. We can look so far into the future that we are conscious of our own death. We know that our time here is limited. The interesting part is that this is a healthy realization. But only if you are unavoidant of this fact.

The Great Teacher

Meaningful questions are best answered in the context of limited time. Mark Manson tells us to ask those questions while being aware of our death. What kind of impact will I have? How can I change the world for the better? What is truly essential in my life? The problem is that we choose to set aside our awareness of death. And then, “without acknowledging the ever-present gaze of death, the superficial will appear important, and the important will appear superficial” [1].

It’s hard to understand why this tends to happen. It may just be that we forget the limit of time. Being young myself, I’ve often felt like I’ve had all the time in the world. This meant that it was fine to put off essential pursuits for the future while focusing on non essential activities now. I can spend all day worrying about what someone commented online. What else do I have to do? This perspective is like having the credit card and forgetting that you have a limit. The feeling of wealth may allow you to indulge in marginally beneficial purchases because you figure “Why not?” But by the time you realize you could’ve spent that money for more important purchases, you’ve reached your limit. Not a good financial plan.

Asking yourself what you would do if you were told you wouldn’t wake up the next day is important. For me, the important realization was my disconnection with the present moment. Would I pull out my phone to capture the last sunset, or would I just see and enjoy it? Would I walk around with headphones in my ears or look at the beauty of the world around me? Would I worry about texting someone while I’m spending time with loved ones? Would I worry about any grudges or gossip? While I may have been told that these things are trivial in life, no one can teach the lesson better than death.

And Its Lesson

However you answered the question of your experience in your last day, I have to ask how it would change if I told you it was your last week instead. Would you now worry about gossip, grudges, etc? Probably not. Last month? Last 3 months? Last year? At what point would you decide, “Well I have enough time now that it’s ok not to fully experience things and worry about trivial items”. There doesn’t seem to be such a threshold. We just get so caught up in the nonessentials of life that we forget about the limit we have.

Michael Singer asks us what if Death arrived at our doorstep now? After all, there’s no reason to assume we might even be alive tomorrow. None of us are in perfect health and any number of accidents outside of our control can happen. We might ask for one more week. Get our affairs straight. Meet our loved ones. Experience the sunset fully. What would Death say? “‘My God! I gave you fifty-two weeks this past year alone. And look at all the other weeks I’ve given you… What did you do with all those?” We might answer, “‘ I wasn’t paying attention… I didn’t think it mattered.’ That’s a pretty amazing thing to say about your life.” [2]

Facing the fact of your death allows you to discern what’s essential and what is not. Being ready to die at any moment allows you to fully experience living. You don’t have to be impractical about it. For me it was just a switch in how I went about life. When outside, I choose to walk out and fully embrace the outside world. When in the face of something beautiful, I choose to immerse myself in the experience. When with friends and family, I choose to give them my utmost attention. It’s a pretty easy choice to make when you constantly ask yourself, what if this is the last opportunity I have at this? Anyways, is there a downside if it isn’t? You just ended up taking the opportunity for its full value.

Such a lifestyle may be difficult to employ fully. But I don’t believe it is impossible and in fact I believe it should be strived for. The perspective death gives us is not doom and gloom as we tend to be afraid of. It actually shines a light on what is really important in life and ensures we are acting fully to the core of our being. As you go about your usual activities and worries, remember to ask yourself the same question. How would I experience this if it were my last day to do so?

[1] The Subtle Art of Not Giving a Fck – Mark Manson

[2] The Untethered Soul – Michael Singer

Join my FREE newsletter to get posts sent directly to your inbox!

I hate spam too. I promise I won’t be sending any your way

Back To Top