Dancing With Death: 15 Things to Remember About Your Own End
It will be almost a year now since my partner narrowly escaped death. Although he made it back then, his heart has become severely ill as a result and we have been preparing for him to undergo a complicated surgery, which may significantly improve the quality of his life… or not, if something doesn’t go well.
I would say that spiritually speaking I’m rather a strong person, so I don’t find myself crying and contemplating “What if…?” questions, and neither is he. We have just unwittingly included the concept of “death” into our daily conversations, simply to take it into account as one of the alternatives when making important decisions.
What is the success rate of similar treatments? Do it now or postpone it to the maximum, in case…?
Now, it may seem like some pretty gloomy stuff, but the truth is that for the past year, we’ve been dealing with the “situation” rather practically, one step after another. So this paragraph is not going to end with a breakthrough realization of mine about dying or losing someone you care about. It’s not death per se that scares me. What frightens me is the possibility that I might not have been using the time we have, or I have, in the best possible way.
Two of my most favorite rings I wear feature human skulls. Once a friend of a friend pointed to one of them and accused me of flashing around such a negative and morbid thing. I laughed. They’re cute and contrary to what she thought, I believe it’s healthy and good for one’s mental well-being to contemplate death. Much as we cannot fully appreciate a flame burning without darkness, it is hardly possible for people to appreciate the gift of life without the prospect of losing it.
So from time to time, remind yourself that…
1. You’re eventually going to die.
2. Soon, none of what bothers you now will matter because you’ll be dead.
3. Not only will you cease to exist at one point but also all the people who discourage you, mock you, blame you or shame you will.
4. Death is incorruptible. Once she comes for you, that’s it. Whether you believe you’ve won or lost in your life, you don’t get to play the same game once more.
5. Your daily decisions would most probably look different if you knew for sure that you were going to die in the near future.
6. You can choose to live as many lives as you want. There’s no single right path; they all have the same end. What matters is how much joy you experience, how much love and knowledge you share, or how much good you create along the way. So change jobs, countries, or hobbies as much as you like. Nothing is forever.
7. Many great things in life are scary, but you don’t need exceptional courage or skills to go for them. Remember that you and everyone around will be dead in no time, so what the hell.
8. Death is pretty much the only certainty you can cling to, so don’t waste time and energy getting too attached to things or achievements that don’t result in some sort of lasting value.
9. We have only one single chance to live each moment. Once it’s gone, it’s gone, and we never know which one will be the last.
10. If you’re afraid of death, it means you’ve not yet entirely benefited from the fact that you were given a life. Start living now.
11. If you didn’t know that you’ll die one day, you’d keep wasting time and energy on thoughts or actions that don’t matter, make you unhappy or make others unhappy way more than you’re doing just now.
12. It’s not only death that ends a life. It’s pain, fear, loneliness, and resignation. Fight them hard because if they win, you may not be dead but you won’t be alive either.
13. You don’t know when exactly any of the people you love will leave. They may be taken away by death, or they will leave on their own or someone else’s will. Be it as it may, you don’t have them forever. Call them now. Talk to them now. Be with them now. The time you have with them around is running out with every passing second.
14. The only way to beat death is to create something that will impact lives long after your body is gone.
15. Since you can’t be sure if death is not around the corner already, the second best time to do what you’ve always wanted to do is now.
Life should not be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside in a cloud of smoke, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming “Wow! What a Ride!
~ Hunter S. Thompson
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