“The world is like a ride in an amusement park. And when you choose to go on it you think it’s real because that’s how powerful our minds are. And the ride goes up and down and round and round. It has thrills and chills and it’s very brightly colored and it’s very loud and very fun, for a while. Some people have been on the ride for a long time and they begin to question: “Is this real, or is this just a ride?” And other people come back to us, they say, “Hey, don’t worry, don’t be afraid, ever, because this is just a ride.” ~Bill Hicks
Every day a new day. The alarm sounds in the morning and a routine follows. Breakfast, clothes, brush teeth, etc. Getting ready for the day at hand and having goals and dreams for the future. The weeks sail by, and at times it’s hard to remember what month it is. Creating and putting energy into our professional and personal lives, my mind often wanders toward the temporary-ness of it all. Something I felt hesitant writing about but as I flipped through an old journal, found many entries I had written. Frankly, the realization that we’re all going to kick the bucket some day. I thought about this often as a kid and I still do. I thought I was maybe nuts, I could never tell if it was normal or not. But denying that we will die someday would be the same as denying that we have to eat and poop. Philosophers have written volumes and ancient civilizations dedicated their entire lives contemplating where their dirt nap might lead them.
It feels absurd when I remind myself I won’t be here one day. Everything seems so real, so tangible, yet in a sense dreamlike. Having an awareness of the obvious though I feel gives life more substance rather then if ignored. For example one of my favorite hobbies I excel at is taking life too seriously. I now have the good sense to remind myself that sometime between tomorrow and seventy years from now I’ll be compost. Depressing? Absolutely not. It has been instrumental helping sort out very quickly what is important and what isn’t. The broader picture seems more clear.
One of my personal goals rather than having a killer 401k on my deathbed, is to have no regrets. There are many articles about nurses who report the most common ones they hear as they are taking care of end of life patients. Some of them are,
I wish I had the courage to live a life true to myself, not one others had expected of me
I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends
I wish I had the courage to express my feelings
I wish I had let myself be happier
I wish I hadn’t worked so hard
And of course questions like “Did I live a meaningful life?” or “Will I be remembered?”
I heard once that mortality is the zest of life. If a potion were made for an infinite amount of days here, I’d have to politely decline. It’s death that gives our lives shape and meaning. The new Thai restaurant I discovered on Hewitt Avenue wouldn’t nearly be as awesome if I knew I could eat there forever. But remembering this doesn’t have to illicit major life changes. It’s the simple things like making sure we hug our significant others before leaving for the day. Maybe not worrying about money quite so much, considering we’ve been doing it for years… and we’re still alive worrying about it. Or maybe not putting off a vacation…or taking dance lessons…or recycling. In any sense, a remembering of what’s really important, a process of simplification of thought and a vision for these bodies we get to move around for awhile. Another gift, another chapter in a book, another stop on our endless journey through the stars.