Everyday you can go to CNN.com and read about people who have died – car accidents, murders, unfortunate timing, wars, cross-fire. What strikes me about these stories is that these people are like us – they woke up in the morning and had jobs, families, friends, hopes, and dreams to attend to. However, little did they know they were embarking on their last day of life in this world.
The difference between the people we read about on the news and ourselves is that we are fortunate to have another day on this planet, for death can’t be predicted.
We all understand this, we all know there is a certain probability we will be in a car accident, natural disaster, shooting etc. and there is nothing we can do about it. Not to mention the incidence of disease and health issues that can affect any of us due to the environment we live in or our genetic makeup.
I’m not saying all of this to be morbid – this is life, this is the truth. So when you embark on today approach it knowing this could be your last day, and not just on an intellectual level. Reflect and meditate on how you want to spend your last moments in this world. What would you want to put into the world on your last day of life? How would you carry yourself? What’s stopping you from doing what you want today?
I’ve spent the past few weeks starting every morning reflecting on this idea of death – and it has been truly liberating. Knowing that I can die has allowed me to get clearer about how I want to spend my time living – what I want to do with time, how I want to express myself, what types of relationships I want, and how I want to act.
This idea of death has given me more courage to live authentically. What’s most difficult for me is being authentic with the people around me – this has been something I’ve been struggling with for years. My egocentric side worries what others will say if I was completely truthful about my motivations and ambitions. However, after reflecting on the illusory nature of this life and the impermanence that pervades almost everything I know that what others think doesn’t matter, for knowing that this life can be gone at any moment makes all these worries so petty and futile.
When I die I know I won’t care about the naysayers but what I will care about is whether I lived a truthful life where I cared for everyone in the world and shared my compassion and joy with everyone that I’ve had the privilege to interact with.
The lens of death has helped me understand what I truly value – I don’t care about my performance at work, I don’t care about the balance of bank account, I don’t care about my accomplishments, I don’t care about what others may think – but I do care about giving my best in every single moment, I do care about working on things that make me come alive, I care immensely about nurturing authentic friendships and expressing myself authentically to the people around me.
In practice this is difficult, professing you don’t care about something and actually not caring about it are two different things – however, any change in life starts with baby steps. When I do get caught up with things that come up at work, relationships, or finances I force myself to take a mindful moment and evaluate my feelings and emotions as if I was embarking on my last day of life.
What is it that you want to do? Not what you think others want you to do or what you think you should be doing. What is it that you want to do with your time? Make your bucket list – and now do it, don’t worry about anything else. Know what you value and what you want to do and go after it 100%. Death is the common end that everyone reading this is going to face at some point. For some of us it maybe soon for others it maybe years or decades a way, time will tell. So no matter how crazy and far fetched your ideas are go for it, why not? You’ll either get there or die trying, either way, hopefully you won’t regret the journey as long as you are living your truth.