Intellectually most of us realize that life is fragile and fleeting. Emotionally most of us are in denial.
Me, too. I seldom think about dying. I realize I’m not immortal but thoughts of a limited shelf life rarely bubble up in my consciousness.
I’m sure I’m not alone in this. We all make plans and harbor dreams that ignore time clocks.
Indeed, it’s harder for many folks to think about death than it is to get in and out of an ophthalmologist office at Mach 1 speed.
Perhaps it’s the bad flu season we’re experiencing that has claimed the lives of young, healthy people way before their time, but the fragility of life is heating up on my front burner.
Anyone of us can vanish in a blink of an eye from an accident or be diagnosed with a terminal disease that we swore we had been granted immunity from suffering.
I’m hardly a philosopher, but we were born to die. We’re ticking time bombs from the cradle to the grave.
It’s not that I’ve suddenly become inordinately morbid. It’s simply that I no longer refuse to confront my mortality.
Life can be a not-so-funny old possum, which is why some people drink like a fish, smoke like a chimney, live on bread and lard and stave off the executioner’s song until they’re 90.
Then there are those unfortunate folks who seem to live on the precipice of catastrophe and often die much too young.
With them, one tiny sniffle turns into a wheeze and suddenly their existence is left in ashes and ruin. Life sits on them as if it were trying out a sample sofa in a furniture showdown.
The world can be a cruel, foreboding place.
Granted, medical advances have made it a safer haven. People in general seem more aware of taking better care of themselves in terms of diet and exercise. It was not always so.
I remember a time not so long ago when smoking and drinking weren’t capital offenses and there were no seatbelts in cars.
Yes, humankind has smartened up from that era when our minds were dark woods full of lightning bugs when it came to being health conscious.
There are various techniques designed to promote temporal inspection and see where you’re at on the life spectrum. One is based on the days of the week, assuming that a day’s worth of time equals 12 years and we were born on the first second on a Monday.
By the end of that day we are 12 years old and by the end of Tuesday we are 24 years old, etc.
For me at 68 it means it’s Saturday afternoon at 2. Sunday midnight is game over.
No wonder my tick tocks are getting louder.
But it’s not like I’m stewing in depression while watching the sand sift through my hourglass. The fragility of life seems remarkably less so when you focus on others instead of yourself.
Instead focus on what you will do in your time remaining, for yourself and family, for your organization and for your community.
This spikes the spirit and renews vitality because it focuses on what to do rather than to simply sit there and mutter about so little time left. It also requires you to look beyond yourself, to think of others.
Besides, there are drawbacks to being eternal. Can you imagine the staggering amount of taxes you would pay if you lived forever?