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Why You Should Contemplate Mortality

“It is not death a man should fear, but he should fear never beginning to live.” Marcus Aurelius

“And in the end, it’s not the years in your life that count. It’s the life in your years.” ~Abraham Lincoln

Time is not a renewable resource.  Many people don’t want to think about death because it’s uncomfortable. Denying the idea of death or realizing that we don’t have unlimited time might change the way we make decisions. Last year, I decided to read some books with accounts of people who were terminally ill. Most notable Being Mortal by Atul Gawande and When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi. Another highly recommended book I haven’t read yet is Bright Hour by Nina Riggs.

Contemplating mortality is something I’ve heard people doing a lot lately since Kobe Bryant’s tragic death.  It was a wake-up call for some, realizing that it could be lights out at any moment.  That wake-up call has spurred conversations about the timeliness of living life on purpose- the life you want to live starting now.  A friend of mine was saying she realized all she does is work and she was going to start spending more time on relationships.  I like that and it’s a reminder I need as well because at the end of the day, we won’t wish we worked more hours.  A lot of us procrastinate all kinds of things, including big things like changing our life path because change and the unknown is scary and uncomfortable. We say things like, “I’ll wait until the kids are graduated. I’ll wait until I’ve saved enough money.  I’ll wait until I have a perfect plan. I’ll wait until I have more education” and then we realize decades have passed and we are still saying “I’ll wait until…”

Here is a quick exercise you can do. If you knew you would die tomorrow, what would you regret?  If you knew you had a year to live and you would suddenly be changing a ton of things in your life, that’s a problem!

Motality Pete Ryan Time Magazine

Also, contemplating the mortality of a loved one is something that makes me uncomfortable but I do it often. It helps me avoid taking them for granted.  If someone you love died today, what would you wish you would have said to them? We ALL put things off- like calling our parents or friends.  Leaving an argument unresolved.  Do it now. Call that friend or family member to say hello because you may never get another chance.

“Begin doing what you want to do now. We are not living in eternity. We have only this moment, sparkling like a star in our hand and melting like a snowflake…”

 

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