I've been thinking a lot about death. And I can't stop thinking - isn't it sad that the death of a friend makes you start thinking about how you're living your life?
I mean, why can't we live in a state of death?
It sounds like an oximoron and downright heresy. But give me a moment to explain.
We have all experienced death and most of us have had death walk right up to us and engage us in a staring contest that we eventually lose. Or win. In any case, we know what color death's eyes have.
Whether or not we lose the staring contest, we always walk away with the same regrets and passion to change the future.
We should have called more.
We should have visited that one last time.
We should remember the last time we saw that person...
...the way they smelled....
...what they wore....
...their last words....
...your last words....
We should have ended that last text conversation differently.
Or the last phone conversation.
I shouldn't have stormed out; they shouldn't have yelled.
We should have made Christmases and birthdays a bigger deal.
I should have mailed them a Christmas card.
We shouldn't have been too busy to do lunch.
So why? Why can't we think abut these things before death smiles and blinks...after we already have?
I posted this question to a friend the other night. His reply was that it's sad that this is the way it is but that it is the way it is.
My overactive brain (which sometimes makes me want to jump off a bridge....not in a literal way. I'm not suicidal. But in the please-shut-off-brain-because-I-can't sleep-way) wouldn't accept this. If we can fall into the rut of not appreciating life until death strikes then why can't we get stuck appreciating life every day?
I think it's a matter of our worldview.
We say that life is short. But yet we don't live like it is until we are forced to acknowledge it. Then we act surprised as if we really don't believe that life is a vapor and that it doesn't last forever. I mean, who does death think it is, stealing from us? When in reality we're probably trying to hang onto something that wasn't really ours in the first place.
My worldview is that life is a gift and it is brief. It's not fragile; it's just not here forever. So instead of living like death is something to be avoided, I choose to live in the awareness of death.
It sounds morbid, yes. But I refuse for death to sneak up on me. It can't steal life (because life is for death to have) but it can rob me of my memories, of my should-have-could-have-would-haves. It can rob me of my peace of mind and it can give me regrets.
If you're ever around me, I always tell my family members "love you" before hanging up the phone. I leave notes in their vehicles for them to find when they're leaving for school or work. We always hug each other goodbye and hello when we've been gone a few days. I tell my friends how I feel about them, how I appreciate them, things I like about them. I lay in bed at night and think about the things I shouldn't have said in that tone to my little brother or sister or mom and I make a promise to fix it. I apologize. I don't do it again. Those things are important. Those are the things that death has the ability to take from me.
It sounds like I'm living in the shadow of death, doesn't it?
But really, aren't we all?
My worldview allows me to dance in the shadows, to feel the sunshine on my face, to lose the staring contest but to have no regrets.