Death as Our Teacher
As a child, I thought about death a lot. I feared an early death for myself. Want to know something strange? Every time I went on a trip when I was young, I left a letter, sealed in an envelope, with the words, “In the Event of My Death.” Inside was a letter assuring my mother that I lived a full and happy life and if I died, please know, I was at peace with that outcome.
I think I got that idea from her. She kept a journal on the bookshelf that she wrote in when I was a baby and there was an entry that said, “Know Rachel, should anything ever happen to me, that you made my life complete.” I would sit and read that when I was young and cry.
As I aged, I quit writing death letters, but I did make sure that if I was leaving on a road trip, or a jet plane, that I left my home in an organized fashion, bed made, and that I had on nice underwear. It’s as if I am always preparing for the moment of my death, as I just never know when I will breath out, and not breathe in again. Come to think of it, I think I’ll post this blog early, and not wait until the morning, as I just can’t be sure that I will wake up. If I do, let’s celebrate! (Another day of living…) Who sings that song?
When I was in college, my grandfather died. His death was the first I ever experienced in my family. His kids and I sifted through his home and trashed a huge amount of stuff. I remember my dazed awe as I watched my uncle fill the dumpster we rented that spanned the length of the driveway.
Really?! I thought. We collect all that junk and then our children throw it out!? Ever since then I have been a habitual clutter -clearer. I don’t want to leave a suffocating mess for whomever has to trash my stuff when I die. I think I am incredibly thoughtful.
When I have a big decision to make, I contemplate death. The first time I decided to leave work for a week and take off on short notice to Burning Man, I thought, If I died soon, this is definitely what I would do.
When I was deciding to leave my career, I thought in a similar way. If I knew this was the last year of my life, I would make this leap and take this time off to pursue my creativity.
This line of thinking is especially helpful when it comes to my mom. Sometimes I get so mad at her and then I think, when she is gone, I will so wish for another moment to be with her. That thought can immediately make me cry and then I let go of my anger and remember I love her so.
Death is a part of life and I suppose thinking of it often reminds me to live more fully. If I deny the truth that any moment could be my last, then I take living for granted.
I can get so unhappy with my errands to run, my items to fix, my never-ending to do lists, that I pretend that life is a chore, instead of a miracle to be milked, daily. It’s like the teats of a cow. I heard once they hurt, or get backed up or something, if you don’t milk them regularly. Life is like a cow’s teat. We have to milk it regularly.
So, I invite you to take a look at your life, if you knew you were going to die in a year, or six months, or a week, what would you do differently?
I think I would go to Burning Man again.
Let us bravely live well enough to contemplate death, so that we don’t waste a precious moment of this human birth.
We all will die. Instead of that being a morbid thought, let it be an inspiring reminder to seek your bliss, now. What are you waiting for?
In case I die soon, please know that I love you so. Know that I really love life. A lot. Know that I feel complete and full and that I died following my heart, pursuing my dreams, contemplating bliss and knowing the ultimate truth of all, that there really is no death, only transitions, as we journey on…