Intellectually we all know we will die one day. We don’t know how or when. Even today is a possibility. Most of us don’t want to die. Not one day. Definitely not today.
If you’re anything like me, when you hear about a death you ask questions: Were they sick? For how long? Was it an accident? Where? What hospital? Did they smoke? Were they drunk? How old were they? Once I gather all the data I can, I feel the motor of my mind spinning and calculating, even bargaining with the grim reaper. Well, I don’t drive on that road…at that speed…in the dark… I don’t eat meat…I don’t smoke…I work out… I meditate… My brain makes a quick calculation of the likelihood of my impending demise in the wake of another’s. Nope, not me. That won’t happen to me.
Of course the calculation is always off because at the end, I come back to the reality – I could die TODAY. My daughter could die TODAY. Any of us can. People slip in bathtubs and die in their homes, so staying home all day doesn’t guarantee a death-free life. It will, however, guarantee a fearful one.
It’s almost as if Fear hangs out at corners, smoking cigarettes and looking shady, daring you to live. She dares you to step outside into the sun, to run in the breeze, to drive fast or kiss slow, to take a leap of faith or passion. Some of us tiptoe, making sure not to incite Fear’s wrath. Others run around corners laughing as Fear chases us. We run, stumble, fall, get up again. Try again. Work harder. Take long naps. Start over.
People who have never smoked die of lung cancer. Women with no history of breast cancer in their family succumb to the disease. Rich celebrities who seem to have every advantage die of terrible accidents (like Kobe and Aaliyah), drugs (like Prince and Whitney), violence (like Tupac and Biggie), and run-of-the-mill old age (like we all quietly dream of). Young people die all the time (like Gigi and Bobbi) – it just hurts more.
Before my daughter started her freshman year of high school, she went to a funeral for a boy she didn’t know who had committed suicide. Shortly after that there were three more: one accidental shooting by a friend, one drowning on a field trip and one hit by a car while riding his bicycle.
My daughter and I have always had conversations about death. What happens if I die? What happens if she does? These conversations don’t make us sad – they’ve made us closer and more alive in the knowledge that life is precious for everyone, even the young and healthy.
People die and new people are born every day – that’s how this whole thing works. We know that in our heads but not in our hearts, so when we hear tragic news our heart breaks. We’re shocked. Over and over again. We all know the informal definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result, so how can we live each day as if we will never die when death is our only guarantee?
I choose to live each day knowing it could be my last. I cultivate joy and love. I intentionally release anger and fear. I choose self-care and self-work so that when my final moment comes I have no regrets and I’m not surprised. I’m dipping around corners, giggling and running in the breeze with Fear at my heels. I won’t let her catch me. For those that have lived well, death is just the opening of another chapter.
I wish you Freedom, Alignment and Effortless Abundance!
P.S. The photo is from a TED Talk I watched yesterday featuring Dr. Bert Herring. In his talk on intermittent fasting and life balance, he encouraged us to think “Did I enrich today?” when we see the word “diet” as a reminder to live a richer life. I am traveling to Ghana in March to enrich my life and others by sharing my yoga practice. I’m hosting a mini yoga retreat and fundraiser here in Atlanta on March 7th. Why not enrich your life and sign up? Details at honeybutterflyz.com/about