I have a confession to make, after reading nearly one hundred introspective, “meaning of life,” meditation guides and other self help books, I am still afraid of death. This may not come as an alarming statement, many people are uncomfortable with facing their own expiration on this planet and ceasing to exist in the only form they have known their entire lives.
Personally I have taken it a step further, recalling the time I was twelve years old and avoided the necessary physical exam that entrants to Junior High needed to participate in team sports. I avoided this exam because I was convinced that it would yield a terminal cancer diagnosis that would stop my Junior High career, before it even started. I dodged that bullet, but later had to face the fear when it was required to advance to the next educational step. I may have missed my chance at Varsity Volleyball, but I did live to graduate high school :).
As I’ve aged I’ve accepted the requirements of being an adult by fully taking part in annual physicals, despite the chance that they could result in hearing facts that I would rather hide from. However, I haven’t come as far as I would like to on the journey of accepting that we have an expiration date and do not know when we may be presented its approaching hour. I still lose sleep over bodily oddities of my own and family members that could result in being presented a date with destiny. That said, in this week’s installment, I begin to explore the meaning of death, its importance and teachings to better accept it as a part of the cycle of life.
Have you ever, stepped back and thought about all of the beautiful gems, rocks and crystals there are on this planet. The options for women to adorn themselves in earth’s own masterpieces are endless. Sapphires, Topaz, Amethyst are amazing stones to add to your collection. However, most women end up wanting a diamond for their wedding ring. This is sort of an odd inclination, they are colorless, you typically get less rock for your money and there are a million other options. Yet, due to the rarity of a beautiful diamond, we want it all the more. This is akin to life itself, the mere preciousness of knowing you have limited days gives it a beauty like no other. Most claim to know this, but it is not until our days really start to get numbered that we act differently about the gift we have been given.
To not talk about death or face it head on each day is cheating yourself out of death’s lesson to you. Death is giving meaning to your life. If it was endless we would be much more flippant about the investment we put into each realm of our life. Living consciously in the knowing that you must enjoy this life as much as you can because your time is very limited helps you have gratitude for the gifts you are given. Death is meant to be our coach, ensuring we do not waste time in endeavors that do not feed our soul and the world of what it needs from us as individuals. We must be open to being its student.
For many including myself, life is a series of aspirations, steps and boxes to check. Each part of your life has a nice little compartment and you can typically connect to your internal barometer and know how well you are doing in that department. Am I the right weight, with the right person, in the right job etc.? What I have come to accept about death is that this life is on loan for the sole purpose of growth and defeat of ego. There will be barriers, I will break them down or be broken and I will have to shed the pride of my ego (selfishness) to sincerely experience life.
At times I may not feel like I am living life “the right way,” that somehow my choices don’t live up to life’s expectations. When I feel lost on the path, most likely my ego is taking over and the universe will set me straight. Said differently, whatever meaning I choose to give to this life is worth living, it’s my diamond. Coming to peace with the life experiences you choose, fully appreciating them and understanding that you are living for the purpose of growth, enables reconciliation with death when it comes.
Busying yourself with worrying about the time you have left, robs you of experiencing life to its fullest. Training your brain to stop itself in the tracks of anxiety about ill health and learn that it costs you precious hours of your finite ability to experience life, is something you must cultivate. Fear of death, is a barrier to living fully and going after what you want in this life. Acceptance of death as a powerful teacher and relinquishment of control over your life’s timeline, lends a peace like none other. I suppose that is why the adage “Let Go and Let God” has become so popular. Nonetheless, it’s more than that, its realizing that you have the gift of a diamond in time that you can make as radiant as you would decide.