Death drives us. It’s inevitable. Often, it begins at that moment you realise you won’t live forever or that your time may never be enough. That whatever time you do have feels like far too little. With such a short, precious window on this beautiful Earth and (*gasp!*) having used up a big chunk of it already, being aware of your “end” is scary. After all, you have so many things to live, feel, do and dream! Acknowledging your own mortality, while gently relaxing into its reality, can be a huge, lifelong challenge.
Am I aware of and driven by my own mortality? Yes. Death is a great motivator. Knowing that we will die drives us to create amazing works of art, far reaching campaigns, meaningful bucket lists, once-in-a-lifetime experiences and deep connections.
But without knowing exactly when death will become your reality, how do you relax and really LIVE rather than just going through the motions, achievements and milestones? How do you make quality space for your spirit within the context of human fragility?
Achievement may feel like a shield against death, and it can be -for a time. I won’t die until I’ve finished…..
But what happens when you don’t die? When you almost died, but didn’t? Or you may die at any time, but still have right now? When you are here and alive but can’t stop doing doing doing? What do you do when your focus on achieving prevents the true joy of existing?
Living balanced on the knife-edge of fragility and fortitude is an exhilarating but exhausting experience. As humans, I don’t know that we are built to cope with the knowledge of just how delicate we are. Indeed, I certainly can’t keep it a central thought in my day-to-day life. Instead, I have to learned how to relax into the reality of my own lifespan.
My solution? Living moments. Each and every one of them.
Quite simply, the only way to cope with death is to live . Now. To be consciously, wholly present.
What does true presence look like?
For me, it is accepting the fact that I am sitting (in a green chair by a sunny window, with classic FM blaring bombastically), writing to you. Not thinking about what I’m going to do next, or planning the best yoga poses for my aching back. Not wondering about lunch, worrying over past or future events. Not rushing through this to “finish” it so I can move onto the next thing. It is not flinging myself against an unknown future in the hope that if I try hard enough it has to open up for me. I am just sitting. Writing. Taking a deep breath. Right here, right now. And it is beautiful.
What do living moments look like for you?
“You’ve no idea how long life goes on and how many, many changes it brings. Young people seem to imagine that it’s over in a flash, that they do this thing, or that thing, and then die, but I can assure you they are quite wrong.”
I also focus on the moments that make life magical. The moments time stops and I have oceans and acres of space to breathe, love and be. I don’t have to DO to keep living. Just being, in every moment, is enough.
If I were to spend?
And still new minted life?
Lying in sun light?
Watching the swallows?
It would be enough.
What experiences make you feel timeless? Share in the comments!