Tuesday, May 23, 2017

In the end maybe there is no end

I have been thinking much more about death lately. Before anyone starts freaking out, to be clear, I am NOT suicidal. I am just being honest…

Even if death is as natural as birth, in the western world, we are so uncomfortable with it that it has pretty much become a taboo subject. Just mentioning it when talking to someone will almost always make them feel noticeably uncomfortable and result in a reply like “Don’t talk like that” or “Let’s change the subject”. Talk about it too much and don’t be surprised if your friends and family suddenly organize an intervention thinking that you are suicidal (the reason for the 2nd sentence in this post). Death is the only thing that is a 100% sure thing for every single living being on this earth and as humans we mostly live like we are never going to die.

Sitting alone on the snow in the middle of the woods this past January while out fat biking, I felt like shit and so very disconnected. I felt like this whole post-concussion syndrome thing was just never going to get better and I suddenly had a new found understanding of why someone could give up on life. The thought of just walking off the trail into the woods and ending the suffering just came. In many ways it would have been so easy. If most everyone was completely honest and in touch with how they truly feel, I’m sure that most if not all have had such thoughts at one time or another. It was never something that I had the urge to act upon, but the thought did come.

I read that humans are the only animals capable of conceptualizing their own death. As a new dog owner I look at our dog Zen and can’t help but notice even more how ridiculously happy he is constantly living in the present moment completely oblivious to the fact that his time here is limited. In this sense I do agree that ignorance is in fact bliss. Or maybe he does instinctively know that his body won’t last forever and he doesn’t care or dwell on it? Either way, he deals with this truth way better than us humans.

If we’re “lucky” enough to prepare for our own death I believe it to be the ultimate teacher. Just like that it strips away all of the bullshit that our minds have created. You often hear of people experiencing a huge sense of peace and clarity right before passing on. All that’s left is love. Everything that wasn’t ever real disappears just like that. How smart and popular you were in school, how much money you made, how much stuff you had doesn’t matter anymore. The only material thing left in the end is our physical remains in a box or urn. Your rank in society doesn’t matter anymore. The only difference that it makes is in how fancy the box or urn will be. What does remain is the effect that you had on those that you came in contact with during your time here. All that remains is the effect of your love.

During my year-end evaluation at work last month, a thought came to me that whatever my supervisor wrote down based on my work performance was irrelevant. It really didn’t matter. The real evaluation will happen when I die. And my hope is that my friends and family never mention how “hard” I worked during my eulogy, but rather share how I made them feel. I am beginning to understand that living is not so much about achieving anything at all other than meaningful connections with others. I’m beginning to see that it really isn’t all that complicated. Just start with your friends and family and extend it out from there. Choose the only thing that is real in the end. Choose kindness and love.

We begin to die as soon as we are born. In reality, both birth and death are really the same thing. We can’t have one without the other. Death is what makes life so precious knowing that our time here is limited. But it also makes it less serious in that no matter what we do we cannot escape it. It is our fate.  And it is insane to try to fight it.  There is an incredible amount of freedom in realizing and living this truth. I like it here on this earth and don’t want to die, but I’m not afraid of it. The only thing that I fear is the pain and suffering that it will cause to those that I leave behind. But maybe that is just because my life mattered? And there is definitely a sense of peace in that.

A Type 1 Diabetes diagnosis is so much more than the death of pancreatic cells that produce insulin. It is the death of peace of mind. Insulin delays death and I am so very grateful for that. But the loss of peace of mind can be so very expensive. Nothing is certain and under control, and the Type 1 game is a constant reminder of this. Like any other death, it needs to be honored and mourned. The problem is that nobody had ever told me that…

Are you living the way that you would like to die? Are you spreading your love to what matters most? Are you practicing forgiveness? We don’t get to choose how and when we eventually die. But we do get to choose how we live. And how we live is how we die. Think about this for a moment. Ask yourself the question often. You certainly won’t regret it. That I know for sure.

1 comment:

Sir Blogsalot said...

Excellent thoughts Mike - much for humans to ponder and get priorities in proper order. I had a near death situation once - went down or up the ever more joyous and brightening "tunnel" of love - was the most blissful experience ever - I wanted to keep going but something snapped me back. Kindness and love as you say are really at the top of anything worthwhile being concerned about. Karma is real both good and bad, knowing this is difficult (as you quote: ignorance IS bliss) as there is no escaping divine justice.