For the longest time, I have believed that nothing makes you value life like death. Once you realize how frail your life actually is, how, within the blink of an eye, you could be six feet under or be reduced to ash, falling from the sky, or on your last journey. Once you think about all of that, you will suddenly know what it truly means to be alive.
We don’t like to think about it, but death is constantly around us. Around 150,000 people die every single day and it is probably the only thing that universally applies to anything that lives. Yet, most of the time we completely disregard death, we pretend that somehow we are immune, temporarily immortal, only to find that we aren’t. We delude ourselves into thinking that death will come as per our convenience, when we are ready to go.
The universe constantly tries to remind us how wrong we are, either through other people, or through close shaves that we ourselves experience; but our conditioning is so strong that instead of using these reminders to cause a shift in the way we live our lives, we just get back to the grind. Instead of using these experiences as a catalyst to spend the rest of living days doing amazing things, we continue to cling to the mundane. I can’t think of a bigger crime that we commit against ourselves than this.
MAKING THE SHIFT
So how do you actually make the shift? How do you go from being either almost oblivious to death or being consumed by the fear of it to being mindful of it and using it as a catalyst to live your life to the full, to look at each day as a blessing and make the most of it? Here’s some friendly advice – the next time death creeps on you (ideally now, since you are reading this,) pause things for half an hour or an hour or so, get to somewhere where you can think, somewhere you can find clarity, wherever that may be. Then, try and make a list of all the things that you are grateful for in your life, include as much as you can, whether it is the fact that you have a loving, caring, nurturing family, or a great friend who is always there for you when you need them, or a job that can although sometimes be challenging, rewards you with the ability to achieve the things you want in your life. But it doesn’t all need to be grand, you could be thankful for the breakfast you had, or the fact that you didn’t face too much traffic on your way to work, you will be surprised to find how exhaustive this list can get. After that, make a list of all the things that you want to change about your life that you have the ability to and have control over – things like wanting to spend more time with your spouse, learning a musical instrument, taking out the time to travel, learning to cook, or running more often.
Making this list will help you put into perspective what it truly means to be alive, and why it is a gift that we need to cherish every breathing second of our lives, instead of constantly complaining about something and in-turn dying bit by bit every single time we do that.
It is important that we pause every now and then, so that we can figure out what is good about our life and what can be realistically improved. I try and pause as much as often as I can, almost making a new list at the start of each month (but I am aiming to start doing this every week). There’s several other moments where you need to pause, to not desperately fill your gaps with something, with anything. I will talk about it more in another post, but this pause is more of a deliberate one, it is an intentional pause, to reflect on your mortality, in order to truly appreciate life.