We’ve all said it and heard it countless times that death is life’s greatest mystery. What it also seems to be is life’s greatest gift. The comprehension of no longer having a body allows one to take pleasure in even the smallest moment, like a breath. If you haven’t sat in the understanding of losing what you consider yourself, that is a disservice to the life you’ve been given. As I said in my previous post, Feeling Displaced and Disillusioned, everything in life is temporary – and this includes life itself, as we know it.
I’m not here to tell you what I think happens after we pass on. I have no answers there and I’m perfectly content with that. My light, spirit, personality and unique collection of experiences and expressions will one day no longer be present here on Earth. The people I’ve known, the lives I’ve touched, those I’ve hurt and those that will never remember me may live on. I will go to a place without them, like walking out one door and in through another, or I will be nothing at all and my consciousness will cease to be, or I will be everything, a combined and collective universal mind. These appear to be the options we’ve been presented so far. But how do we perceive death throughout our life? Do we fear it? Do we have faith in it, or is it all just one big cosmic joke? Instead of explaining what happens after, because no one actually knows, I’d like to write about how I’ve contemplated death and how this has given me more life.
While trying to obtain a higher understanding/change of perspective I implement the three “A’s”: awareness, acceptance, and action. To start in awareness, take this next moment to just bow your head and acknowledge your inevitable death. Imagine your body without “you” inside it. Breathe deeply and focus on what that feels like – examine that experience of withdrawing from your body. Be an anthropologist of your own concept of death. Does this bring up feelings of fear? Of regret? Of sadness, loneliness, or even jubilation? Does your death have a color, is it all black or bright as the sunshine, what does your experience feel like? I personally do this every day as a reminder that I was given another opportunity to live – a practice reminding me of gratitude and humility.
Once you are awake and can conceptualize your own mortality you can then greet acceptance. Most people will likely say “I know I’m going to die, it happens to everyone and it’s going to happen to me.” But internally, feelings of fear are aroused as to what’s going to happen next. Fear of the pain that one might suffer prior to death. Fear of leaving behind loved ones. Fear of not having enough time and not accomplishing our dreams. These fears can run our lives in a very real and powerful way because death can happen at any moment. Humans are fragile creatures, we are strong, we can fight but we are not immortal.
Let me tell you right now that fear of “not living your dreams” is bullshit. YOU ARE ABLE TO DREAM – THAT IS THE GIFT! You can envision yourself owning a home, having a baby, getting your film career started but all of these are just human aspirations. They are the shallow end of the pool. Dive into the deep-end and acquiesce that just by opening your eyes in the morning, breathing in another sip of air and saying “hello” to the world is the actual gift of your life. Genuine acceptance of death fosters and breeds fearlessness. Afraid to go skiing? Nope! Afraid to go scuba diving or explore a new city or get on an airplane? Definitely not! If I am to die, which I will, I’d much rather do it actually living my life, rather than sitting at my desk, driving on my commute home or eating a safe salad at the same corner street cafe. Acceptance of death is even, possibly, laced with a tinge of excitement for yet another potentially beautiful journey.
After contemplating death for many years now, I’ve come to a place of missing those that have passed, but knowing that I was only supposed to be blessed by their light for a certain chapter of my life. I truly hope when I die that no one mourns me. Do not miss me, do not cry, do not suffer in any way, for I will already be somewhere or nowhere at all and I will be completely excited and satisfied by that! It’s the very last stage to what we know of – I made it to the last video game check-point if you will. I leveled up! Feel gratitude in your heart for our shared experiences, remember the love, the laughter and the journey we created together – but never feel pain.
Lastly, after awareness and acceptance, the final step is action. What do you do with this fearlessness and bliss for owning your own life and no longer being beholden to your death? You appreciate, feel overwhelming gratitude and experience all the tributes each new day and breath has to offer. Some days hurt, but hurting reminds us that we are alive to feel it. Challenges and hurdles remind us that life is about hiking up the mountain for a breathtaking view of it all. We can move skillfully and carefully through our lives just like a baby witnessing their first inhale of existence. Like brand new conscious beams of kindness, love, joy, and human will – we can delight in all of the life’s treasures. There will be no more “bad” days, no more fear of the “next steps” and no more pressures to accomplish your “dreams” because you will be too preoccupied with what you were freely and graciously given – life.