Remember Your Mortality (365 Days of Spirited Living – DAY 253)
“Awareness of mortality exerts a unique power to focus the mind and heart on essentials.”
— Columba Stewart
It seems strange to think that we would ignore our mortality or even need to have it brought to the forefront of our minds. Death is the big, black, looming monster in the room that no one wants to talk about, let alone, acknowledge. But life itself proves that we clearly need to have such a conversation, if not with someone else, with ourselves. To acknowledge our mortality means that we embrace the dangerous state of existence we all are in every single day.
One of the reasons we don’t want to think about our mortality is because we don’t want to have to accept something that is so uncharacteristic and yet so normal in society. Our view of life, the totality of it and the broad space it encompasses is disengaged with the reality of our existence. We don’t say it because to do so would show the height of our arrogance. But if we’re honest, we think and believe that we are invincible, unconquerable, and eternal.
We don’t embrace our own mortality because we like to entertain the false notion that we are bigger than our trials. We are impervious to pain and suffering and heartbreak and tribulation. All of this stuff only happens to other people, not to us. We forget that while it is important to take life seriously, we also must hold on to life loosely. It can slip away from us without us having to let it go and we are helpless to get it back into our grip.
It doesn’t matter where you live, how accomplished you are, how much money you make, or how well-liked you are in your community, you can step outside your front door one sunshiny day and there could be someone waiting to stab you, rob you, and leave you dead. A drunk driver can hit you hard as soon as you turn on to the highway. And what do you do then? Nothing. Nothing really that you can do. Because it will all be over. In a matter of milli-seconds, you can be here and then gone.
One’s mortality is a dangerous thing to reckon with. While we like to think we have all the time in the world to do what we’re created to do, reality tells us that we don’t. For some of us, if we took inventory of our lives and managed to find the space in our minds to realize that every single morning is a blessing to be alive, we wouldn’t be so hard on ourselves, our spouses, our children, or other people. We wouldn’t push so hard to make more money than everybody else. We wouldn’t attempt to wash away all our troubles at happy hour. Everything would seem trivial, even negated, in the spotlight of death.
Every second you spend in anger, bitterness, resentment, frustration, even the time you spend in overwhelm and overwork, trying to impress and prove a point, is utterly useless when life and death are side by side, possible in the same mind and certain for the same body. The point is not to run from death. It’s a losing race. Death is the fastest runner there is. The point isn’t to prove death wrong either. Death is an equal opportunity agent. It is the same for every single soul born into the world.
The point is to be ready for the day when you have to realize the sum total of your mortality. You may have been able to control everything in life, but you will be helpless in death. Living life the way it was supposed to be lived by finding our purpose and doing it with all our heart to serve the people who’ve been placed around us is worth every bit of our energy, time, and mental aptitude. Because in death, that is really going to be the only thing that matters.
The tragedy of life is not death. By far, that is one of the beautiful things about life. That we can live brilliantly and beautifully and put all our energy and heart into it. And that we can arrive at a point in our existence where we’ve done every thing we’re supposed to do, every thing we could do, every thing that was in our power and strength to do, that we need not continue to live here, but can travel to the next life, mortal as we are, without regrets.
“Each of us is merely a small instrument; all of us, after accomplishing our mission, will disappear.”
— Mother Teresa