And we all cross over to the other side, but you already knew that.
People find out about death at different ages, but you I’m not sure you truly grasp it until much later in life. It’s too abstract of a concept for our young minds to grasp, that someone is here one day and gone the next, and that they’ll never be back. I thought about things like heaven when I was younger, hoping that the people I lost would be there, and that I’d someday see them again, but that’s as far as I got. I remember bawling my eyes out at my stepmother’s funeral, but after some time had passed, my life was business as usual. I still wanted to be a kid after all.
At that age, I was more focused on playing with my action figures, my computer games, or I’d get lost in my own made-up scenarios. Death had made its introduction early on in my life, but it didn’t hit me until about 18 or 19 that it was actually going to happen to me, that I wasn’t going to live to be 200, that I was probably going to live a normal lifespan of about 80 years, and that’s if I was lucky. Suddenly, my world shifted and threatened to fall apart. Existential questions made me uncomfortable, and it would be some time before I was ready to answer them. I always thought I’d live a good and long life, that is, until I realized that it could all end at any moment, and I might not see it coming. It’s enough to leave anyone shook.
The thing is, once you come to terms with your own mortality, that’s when you can really start to live. You come to understand the concept of time, how finite it is, and you prioritize certain aspects of your life over others, knowing that your energy is limited. You realize there are certain things in life you may never accomplish, and while that may hurt, it helps to know what you value the most. I don’t know how many hours I’ve spent writing, but I don’t regret a single day.
Yes, it can cripple you, knowing that you could die to tomorrow or even today. It’s easy to let your anxiety spike, to stay indoors, to be afraid of the outside world and all it’s inherent dangers. As a former atheist, I told myself that it was fine if it all ended tomorrow. If there was nothing after this plane of existence, then that was fine by me. The beauty of life is that we have experiences and learn about different concepts, and we don’t have to cling to one particular idea. You get to tweak and swap and pick something that works for you. You can change, but there’s also something to be said for finding something you like, that supports the way you view the world, and growing with it.
You can let mortality stop you in your tracks, but you don’t have to look at it that way. Instead, you can use it to give you a boost. You can use it as an excuse to live life a little more vigorously, to take a few more chances and even gamble a bit. You can chase the things you want, knowing that your time is precious, in full realization of the fact that this moment will never happen again. Make your life one that you enjoy now, and also when you’re at the end of your days. Live each and every moment.
Relationships are challenging, and one in particular comes to mind. During the beginning, the honeymoon period, everything was bliss. We spent so much time together and hung out as often as possible, and when you’re in that state of mind, it’s hard not to look at that other person as the one you’ll end up with. You’re in an elevated state, but it doesn’t last.
When that feeling fades, what you’re left with is the question, “Just how compatible are we?” It turns out that there was a major difference between us, one that we were never able to rectify. She was always focused on the little things, the smaller aspects of of our relationship, things that I thought were trivial. In my world, the bigger picture was all that mattered, and I didn’t understand why these little things should hinder us. I didn’t get why we weren’t just enjoying the time we spent together, rather than looking for a way to start a fight.
In hindsight, I could have been more accommodating and compromising, but we’re not gifted with too much perspective in our early twenties, and I was confident that my point of view was the correct one, the correct way to see the world. I refused to budge, and it’s not hard to see why we didn’t last.
Roughly a decade later, I’m more focused on staying in the now. I’m trying to enjoy each moment, to focus on what I can do in the present, rather than thinking about a future that won’t happen for some time, or a past I can do nothing about. After going so hard in one direction, I’m regressing to the mean, never losing sight of the big picture, but allowing it to become part of the background, while I maintain my focus on the here and now. You have to keep your eyes on both. Death gives our lives weight and value. Focus on death too much, and you’ll be terrified, but just enough of it can help you do things you never thought you could.
We don’t know what happens when our lives are over, and there’s a possibility it could be nothing. There could also be a heaven, an alternate dimension, some sort of spirit realm, but I’m not sure anyone can say they know for sure. Maybe that’s okay. Death’s inevitability can be scary, but when used properly, it can propel us to do things we never dreamed were possible. It can be the reason you take a job that doesn’t make sense, but that you love. It can be the reason you travel for three months and see the world. It can be the reason you walk up to someone in a public place and ask him or her on a date. It’s a negative thing to be sure, our deaths, but you can use it to your advantage. An awareness of it can help you to live a better life, never losing track of what will eventually come, but still taking time to enjoy each and every day. Thanks for reading.