When I was thirteen or so I was plagued with thoughts of and feared death so badly that I could hardly sleep at night. Even now a fleeting thought of my ultimate demise can leave me frozen with fear. The only difference now though is that I’m more accepting of the idea than my thirteen year old self could ever have been. When I have my moments these days, I first try embrace the thought. I then say to myself, “Okay, so you’re going to die. So what are you going to do now?” This helps me immensely by: a) getting me through the moment and all the feelings that come with it, and b) deepening the meaning of the life I’m living today.
Although the concept of “living while we’re alive” has become almost cliche and that unless literally faced with a life threatening situation, most people will struggle with applying this concept to their lives; It doesn’t make the need for its application any less immediate. I don’t believe that there is much more that I can say that hasn’t been said already about the loss of Steve Jobs. It is a profound one, but one we knew was coming. As did he. When first faced with Pancreatic cancer, he made a choice; he chose to live. In the time between his diagnosis and his death, Jobs lead the charge in changing technology in ways that would affect the lives of millions, all while doing something he absolutely loved doing.
No, I know my efforts don’t have to be as seismic as Jobs’, but the passion with which I live my life should be. What do we have to lose by living life fearlessly? Not a damn thing ;). In recovery, or in one of scores of self help books I’ve mulled through there was a quotation about birth and death dates that boils down to this: There’s your birth date and your death date, what really matters is the dash in between.
What are you going with your dash?
February 15, 1976 –