This is the second part of a two part post. If you haven’t read the first part you can do that here.
In Part I, we explored how the process of looking a little more deeply into the world and ‘unpacking’ those things we habitually take for granted can enhance and upgrade our experience of life, wholesale.
At the end of that post I wrote that there was something else you could do; something that would exponentially compound this sense of joy, this new vision, this greater depth. Something that would trammel it all into your regular day to day, and render it’s habitual application both automatic, and effortless.
Would you like to know what that ‘something’ is?…
It is: to understand, consider deeply, and keep in mind the fact that: you are going to die.
Just stay with that for a moment.
You could be forgiven if your first thought was that this statement seems: negative, maudlin or downright depressing. As a culture we have not historically had the best relationship with the concept of death. In truth, our knee-jerk reaction has typically been: to resist at every turn the stark reality of our innate fragility. To take the knowledge of our inevitable demise and push it as far away from us as we can. Essentially, to avoid it at all costs.
So we keep it behind closed hospital curtains. We keep it locked away in rooms of sterile chrome. Or we bury it as deeply as we can, both in the unconscious depths of our psyches, or in the muffling darkness of the earth; quarantined and forever imprisoned in countless hermetically sealed caskets.
Why do we do this?
Well, whilst there are countless books in both the spiritual and psychological ouvres, filled and being filled with ever more complex and confounding theories; each, any, and every answer to this question is merely a branch connected to a tree which rises and is held upright by a single ever-hungry root.
And that root is Fear.
Put as simply as possible: the thought of death engenders fear to a greater or lesser degree in nearly 100% of the human population. Said differently: fear is the natural reaction of the human mind to the idea of death.
So, given that it’s a natural reaction, why shouldn’t we stick with it as our response? Why shouldn’t we resist the thought of death with as much willpower as we can muster, whilst simultaneously seeking out ways to either: temporarily escape, or ignore it as best we can? What’s wrong with simply doing our best to put it out of our minds?
Glad you asked, because Here’s The Thing:
The further we push the idea of death away from us the more space we leave for ennui to creep into our lives. The more time we spend wishing things were different, the greyer our existence becomes. And the more we seek to escape and ignore this most fundamental of truths, the more we allow the growing and necrotic cancer spawned of boredom and complacency to take root in the heart of our everyday lives.
And here’s the rub.
Whilst potentially terrifying, and: stomach-churningly, skull-leeringly, nausea-inducingly random, the knowledge of our death can also be… helpful.
Actually, even more than helpful. Because the truth is: unless you can consciously own the fact that something is transient and finite, you can never gain the full measure of it’s beauty or worth. The tree exploding with cherry blossom, a first kiss, or a last kiss, would not be even halfway as beautiful were they not: rare, unique, and fleeting.
Life is transient by it’s nature, the only constant is change, and our time runs ever-short. You, me, and everybody we know will one day die. We are each of us sleepwalking thru the richest meat of our lives; past jewels unmined, wonders unseen, and opportunities ever-lost to the black and silent fingers of time.
Wake up. It is much later than you think.
I wish you well.
My name is James Radcliffe and I am a 100% audience supported independent artist. If you like what I do (and can afford it) then please consider buying some of my music. Each purchase really makes a big difference to me and 10% of every sale goes to a charity which: houses, feeds, clothes, and educates orphaned children in Nepal.
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