For the longest time, for as long as I can remember, whenever I became anxious or stressed about something, I always asked myself the following question: “What’s the worst that can happen?” I’m not sure if I learned this worst case scenario question from my parents or if it’s common knowledge that I picked up growing up? But even as an adult, I still ask myself the question regularly. I’m nervous for a presentation or meeting. What’s the worst that can happen? My mind could go blank and I could totally embarrass myself. People listening may not buy into what I’m saying and think that I am an idiot. For every single thing that makes us nervous, anxious or scares us there are almost an unlimited number of answers to the question. And arguably the absolute worst thing that could possibly happen in any given circumstance is that it could kill me. Arguably, the absolute worst case scenario anytime is that I could die.
If like me you also believe this to be true, that the absolute worst thing that could happen in any situation is that you could die, then the absolute worst thing that could happen is also the ONLY thing that is 100% certain to eventually happen. Think about that for a minute. The worst case scenario at any given time is the only thing that is certain in our life. That in itself should wake us up…
I have been thinking about death a lot lately. If death is the only thing that is 100% certain, shouldn’t we be spending more time getting ready for it compared to all of the “what ifs” that we spend so much time trying to prepare for just in case they happen? Most of our time is spent preparing for an unpromised future, getting an education, moving up the corporate ladder, accumulating stuff, exercising and eating the right foods (or thinking that we should exercise and eat the right foods), saving money for retirement, all considered to be short term suffering for long term gain. We spend so much time working towards our “goals” like we’re told to since apparently these“goals” are of the upmost importance so we comply because we’ve been brainwashed. We have been conditioned to believe that we are in control and that salvation is in the future as long as we keep working at it and never give up. What we are actually doing is spending all of our time and energy preparing for what our ego would LIKE to happen. But eventually we all realize that things don’t always go like we had planned and envisioned. And whenever that happens we suffer.
Like it or not death is a certainty. It’s part of the deal. It’s also as natural as being born. Whatever you are doing at any time during any day, someone has died doing that exact same thing. Even if I do every single thing right, with the best intentions, working so very hard towards reaching my “goals”, all it takes is for one of my cells to go sideways or a split second in the wrong place at the wrong time and it’s all done in an instant. When I was younger I was terrified of death. My young child mind was afraid of the physical pain that I would need to endure for everything to end in the absolute worst case scenario. Another big part of my fear was the unknown aspect of the after-life, the rest of it was that I felt like death was such a taboo subject that made everyone, including myself, very uncomfortable and because of that it must be something extremely bad. I’m not really afraid to die anymore. I’m not ready to go yet, I like it here, but I’m not afraid of passing when my time comes. It feels safe for some reason now.
I believe that regular contemplation of our mortality actually helps us live a better and happier life. I find myself more and more appreciating the impermanence of certain moments of peace and love in my life. I think to myself “if I live long enough, someday I will remember and miss the experience of this very moment”. And when I do I just pause a little longer to really take it in. This is such a simple thing that makes such a big difference. It’s the difference between true happiness and temporary pleasure. For so very long I lived at a very fast pace, always worried that I didn’t have enough time, trying to check off as many things off of my bucket list. But now I am beginning to realize that life isn’t a race, that the best that life has to offer is in the mundane, day to day moments like laughing from the bottom of your heart during a family discussion about nothing really on a Tuesday night after supper sitting at home at the kitchen table. That’s the good stuff right there. And too often we don’t take the time to appreciate it as it should. We just brush it off because we think that happiness is in the big stuff, the bucket list content.
Most of us, including myself, just don’t get it. We just don’t get that this is all temporary, that life on the physical plane is really but a fleeting illusion, that our time here is so very brief, that our interactions with the energies in this world are but a very short-term project, that all of this is impermanent. We’re all dying. Some faster than others. I am beginning to understand that freedom is just a matter of letting go. Letting go of expectations. Letting go of thinking that we need to do something big before our number comes up. Letting go of control. The irony in this is that we were never in control to begin with. Control is a myth, an illusion that our mind believes to be true. If we’re honest with ourselves, deep-down in our gut we know that we’re not the ones in control and that really scares us. Society likes the fact that we are unconsciously afraid because it ensures that we keep looking outside ourselves for salvation and security. Being afraid makes us ideal consumers. Being afraid also makes us controllable. Society thrives under fear. That’s why wars and serious diseases are so profitable.
The greatest lesson in Type 1 gaming is in relinquishing control. Type 1 Diabetes is really a constant reminder that life isn’t under control and death is always lingering. Every single time insulin is injected, the gamer’s life is saved. And this is on your mind 24-7. Resisting it consumes you. They tell us that Type 1 Diabetes can be controlled with insulin but I don’t think that control is the best term to use. To me being in control of my car means driving safely in my lane. The blood sugar control that synthetic insulin gives Type 1 gamers is closer to my car swerving all over the place, crossing the yellow line, on the shoulder just barely avoiding crashing into the ditch and that’s on a good day.
I know that Type 1 Diabetes came into my life to teach me to let go of control. The day that Adele was diagnosed, I vowed to be the perfect pseudo-pancreas for as long as she was in my care. I vowed to control Type 1 Diabetes perfectly. Letting go of this has been so very difficult for me, especially now that Adele is maturing into adulthood. It feels like it’s slowly killing me. But I need to surrender to it. I need to surrender through my own healing. On the most basic level, living is really but a continuous series of suffering trauma and healing from it. Our only purpose is to heal. Everything else falls into place from there. Of that I am now sure.