I don’t think of it as a minor thing.
How you spend your days on this earth, that is. Or how you treat others. Or the thoughts you think. You know, all the things we do on a day-to-day basis and say are important but never really act like they’re all that important. It’s the “Life is endless and I know I’m lying to myself but I’m still going to pretend” kind of mentality that we often find ourselves in.
I will give us some credit. There are moments when we’re shaken and realize the delicacy and profoundness of life. And for a moment, we change. It’s a genuine, intimate state of mind that accentuates everything meaningful to us.
It’s the state of mind you find yourself in when someone you love dies, or you have a near death experience, or you endure something so emotionally moving that suddenly everything is crystal clear. All of a sudden you think, “Oh, this is a big deal. This is life happening right before my eyes.” And you’re so moved by your recent experience that you think, “I’m always going to tell those close to me I love them. I’m never going to give up on my dreams again. I’m always ____. I’m never ____.” Fill in the blank.
It’s like someone briefly gave you 20/20 vision of the meaning of life. You feel intimately connected to it. You’re so sensitive to everything amazing, and you swear you’ll never let it go, take it for granted, etc.
But as the days pass and life again becomes mundane, your vision becomes a little more blurry… and a little more blurry… and life starts to look the same as it did before. The days come and they go. You lose yourself in your video games. You have superficial conversations with others, about others. You tire your thumb by scrolling social media and filling your brain with senseless information. You binge on Netflix for 10 hours straight. You stay too long in a job that really isn’t satisfying. You say things you don’t mean to those you love. You lose yourself in the critical thoughts about your own potential. You say you’ll do that one thing, someday. You’ll take care of your body, someday. You’ll work on becoming a better person, eventually.
You’ll see the world and do things that burst your heart open, when the time is right.
And it’s such a bizarre thing when you really stop to observe what’s going on within society. It’s a predictable cycle, really. The elderly lay on their deathbeds and offer insight and wisdom to those of us who can’t understand what that must feel like. They say things like, “I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.” (Which is the #1 regret of the dying). And we nod our heads and go “Yeah, damn, that’s so true, life is too short.” And then we go about our days and live out our lives for everyone but ourselves. Or forget how amazing a single sunrise is. Or shrug our shoulders at the deep love we feel for those around us.
To an outsider it must be so confusing… how humans are so adept at wasting the very days that add up to their life. How we sometimes think, “Wow, life is so amazing, I can’t wait to live a wonderful life, when does it start?” as the seconds pass on the one we’re living. Or the way we groan about unhappiness and wanting this or wanting that as we wake everyday without changing a damn thing.
And you’ve heard it before, and you’ll hear it again, and it really shouldn’t come as a surprise. But there’s something about the words “YOU’RE GOING TO DIE SOMEDAY” that wake people up for even a split second before they let the fear of it numb themselves to what exactly that means. It means that you (like me and everyone else) will lie on your deathbed someday. Or you may lose your life in a split second without time to reflect. Either way, it’ll one day be gone to you.
But don’t panic. When you let the truth sink in without running from it, that’s when you really start to change things about your life. When you panic and change the topic, you’re only doing yourself a disservice. Because when you really start to feel the rawness of that fact – that you will one day no longer be here – then you think, “Well then what the fuck am I doing spending my days like this? Why do I let certain people into my life? Why do I treat others like they’re not dear to me?” And honest, beautiful reflection takes place.
The beauty of it is that the contemplation happens during life when change can still happen, not at the end of it when you no longer have the choice.
This day is a day of your life. Tomorrow is a day of your life. And every other day after that will add up to YOUR LIFE. And it’s YOUR OWN. You have to work for what you want EVERY single day. You have to enjoy the beauty of everything around you RIGHT NOW. You must constantly realize the blessing of the love you have in your life this VERY MOMENT.
You must take control EVERY DAY of the one thing that is yours and no one else’s: your life. And when your vision starts to blur, life feels mundane, and you slowly release control of your one life to everything else around you, close your eyes and imagine your own deathbed. Imagine yourself with deep wrinkles etched into your skin, your bones frail, your mind on its last days. And don’t run away from the image. Take control of reality. This is your LIFE and it happens every single day, and one day it’ll be gone.
I hope you learn to stop running away from the one thing we should all be running toward: the one truth that this life is finite, it is yours, and it is right here, right now, in the palms of your hands.