We have all heard it before ‘Carpe Diem’ or you only live once so make it count.
Whether you believe in an afterlife, reincarnation or nothing at all, one thing we can all agree on is that we don’t actually know what happens when we die.
Not knowing what comes after this life affects us in different ways. When we are younger, the mortality of one’s life might seem like a faint reality. Something that happens to us, somewhere in the far distant future.
But as the years accumulate, our mortality becomes harder to ignore. To come to terms with this, some might take on the approach of squeezing everything out of life. To go faster not slower. To burn the candle on both ends.
Others, may try to delay aging as much as possible through following the latest health and anti-aging trends.
Then there are the ones that prefer to avoid talking or thinking about the finish line all together.
There’s certainly nothing wrong with wanting to make the most of what you have, or to live healthy. There’s even a case to be made about not wanting to spend energy on thinking about it at all.
I can certainly see myself in all three categories. I still have a long bucket list of things I want to do before I go and I am keen to remain fit. Finish line? Won’t they have discovered a solution for this within my lifetime :-).
And yet, I have come to realize that there lies a paradox with each of these coping mechanisms. What we resist, persist even if it is in the unconscious mind.
For instance, I have often fallen prey to the ‘fear of missing out’ (FOMO) symptom, that instead of being present in the actual experience I was having, I was already planning the next one and this became an endless cycle.
And what about the individuals that we know, who live healthy their whole lives and yet have passed, what seemed, way before their time? Is there then another way to look at this life which we were given?
This is a question I have been pondering on lately. Maybe partly because I’m thinking about what to impart our future son when he starts to make his way through life.
I have come to the conclusion that another way to look at life is to embrace it. That includes the great mystery of the life hereafter. But it also means, to embrace that we might not be able to do all the things we set out doing. And that’s ok. Our bodies will eventually age with time. And that’s ok.
Now, instead of focusing on the things I want to still do, I shift my mind to be grateful for all the things I get to do. The people I get to meet, the health I get to enjoy and the gift of life I get to live.
There’s a different experience that happens in the body when you come from a place of appreciation. I realized that living a life that is full and fulfilling is less dependent on what you do but on how you do it.
To not only embrace the big unknown, but to make this moment that we do know richer and fuller through gratitude.
Interested in further readings on this topic? Check out my earlier article Living with the End in Mind.